The Barbados Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition will begin work in earnest with six schools across the country next week to create a healthier school environment.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Barbados, Michelle Daniel, said the work would start in earnest with the implementation of a ban or restriction on the sale of sugar sweetened beverages in those schools.
Mrs. Daniel stated: “The policy implementation will be supported by the required education and advocacy work, as well as the development of strong health clubs, also within the schools. We are also promoting greater accessibility to water and the Barbados Muslim Association has kicked things off with their drive to ensure that every public school in Barbados has at least one water cooler.”
She made the comments on Wednesday at the opening of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Media Managers Orientation, at Hilton Barbados Resort. The institutions are: Reynold Weekes Primary, Rock Christian Primary, Christ Church Foundation School, The St. Michael School, Queen’s College and Alexandra School.
The CEO said the Foundation joined the global fight against non-communicable diseases, which now account for 8 out of every 10 deaths in Barbados. She added that childhood obesity was showing an upward trend, with 31 per cent of children here being overweight or obese.
“Yes, you have heard us being relentless in sharing and re-stating this message. It is intentional, the overall situation is serious, and especially for our children, whom if they are overweight or obese in their early years and this goes unchecked, is not addressed or nothing is done differently; it is highly improbable that they will be able to avoid succumbing to one or more of the non-communicable diseases in later life. If you do your research, you will find that this is the case,” she stated.
Mrs. Daniel said the Coalition of local Civil Society Organisations, of which the Foundation was a part, was strongly supporting the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Ministry of Education, with public education and sensitization, vendor training and social media promotion.
She explained this was being done to ensure Barbadians were fully exposed to the risks of childhood obesity and the harmful effects of the overconsumption of unhealthy foods and drink, particularly the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages.
According to her, statistics indicate that over 73 per cent of children were consuming at least one or more carbonated drinks each day.