A scarcity of arable land, diminished spending power due to the global recession and soaring world food prices, all pose a threat to Barbados??? food and nutrition security.

Minister of Health, John Boyce, made this assertion yesterday, during a two-day National Seminar on Food and Nutrition Security in Barbados at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. The aim of the seminar was to finalise the draft Barbados Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Action Plan.

Mr. Boyce said that while the country needed to guard against these threats, the challenge Barbados faced was more related to poor food choices which directly contributed to the epidemic of chronic non-communicable diseases.

The Health Minister explained that Barbados, like other Caribbean countries, was experiencing a shift in nutritional patterns resulting in increased rates of obesity.

???Within this global economic climate, there has been a worrying trend where more and more people do not have access to safe and nutritious foods to meet their dietary needs for daily living. This is further exacerbated by human habits with respect to our taste preferences. In this regard, I refer especially to the acknowledged over indulgence in the use of both sugar and salt. Our task therefore, includes vigilance and the promotion of a continuous educational thrust to guide our people in exercising healthier eating choices.

???Food Security is a complex sustainable development issue, linked not only to health, but also to sustainable economic development, the environment and trade. Such issues as to whether households get enough food, how that food is distributed within the household and whether or not it fulfills the nutritional needs of all members of the household, show that food security is linked to health,??? Mr. Boyce posited.

As a result of this, he called for greater collaboration among academia, the private sector and civil society to tackle the problem.

Mr. Boyce pointed out that the Food Security and Nutrition Policy and Action Plan, which was presented during the seminar, was based on the regional policy adopted by Member States of the Caribbean Community in 2010. The policy draws on stakeholders from agriculture, finance, social care and health.

He said the Ministry of Health was committed to the development and eventually the implementation of the policy.

???The Ministry is forging ahead and taking effective action so that individuals have the option to the right choices to ensure healthy living and wellness. This continued focus will be one of the many ways we seek to reduce the high rate of obesity and the incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases in this country,??? the Health Minister stated.


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