Health Ministry Concerned About Poor Nutrition Choices

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Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Joy St. John (FP)??

Many Caribbean countries are experiencing a shift in nutrition patterns which has resulted in increasing rates of obesity and in turn, an increase in nutrition-related Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases.

This observation has come from Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Joy St. John, who noted that a recent study in the CARICOM region found that food security was compromised not so much by lack of food availability, as by adequate access to foods and dietary patterns which adversely impacted nutritional status.

She was speaking yesterday during the opening ceremony of a seminar entitled The Right to Food at UN House, Marine Gardens, Christ Church.

The aim of the seminar was to facilitate discussion with stakeholders on the development of a Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Action Plan for Barbados.

Incorporated into the policy will be The Right to Food, a basic human right where persons must have access to adequate, healthy, nutritious and quality food.

The Policy and Action Plan will be developed in collaboration with the National Nutrition Centre of the Ministry of Health, with technical assistance provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Participants, including officials from the Ministries of Agriculture and Health, and representatives of the UN and Non-Governmental Organisations, heard that the Ministry of Health was growing increasingly concerned about the levels of obesity among children and adolescents.

"Obese children are more likely to become obese adults, placing them at a higher risk of developing Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases. These chronic diseases are consistently the major causes of morbidity and mortality in our country."

The Chief Medical Officer also threw her support behind the development of a Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Action Plan, adding that it gave a firm foundation to the development of food security, the availability of proper foods and the adoption of healthy eating habits and lifestyle changes.

"The Right to Food does not replace existing efforts towards hunger reduction. It rather brings a new dimension and complements traditional approaches to fight food insecurity. It does this by providing a legal framework and stressing the rights of individuals and obligations of states," she said.

Food and Agricultural Organization Sub-regional Coordinator, Florita Kentish, maintained that the Right to Food should be a cornerstone of the development agenda for Barbados and the region, if not many of their goals might not be realised.

She, therefore, gave her support to the development of the policy document, stressing the importance of a food secure Barbados for present and future generations.

"We must recognise that a food secure Barbados can only be achieved when our efforts are buttressed by effective participation, accountability, non-discrimination, transparency, human dignity, empowerment and the rule of law – all elements of the Right to Food," she said.

andre.skeete@barbados.gov.bb

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