Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, chatting with some of the delegates at the Caribbean Obesity Forum. (A. Miller/BGIS)

The increasing number of overweight and obese children in this country is of great concern to health officials, and as a result, the Ministry of Health is considering the establishment of special clinics to address this problem.

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, made this disclosure today while speaking at the inaugural Caribbean Obesity Forum at the Hilton Barbados.

"The Ministry of Health recognises that obesity is a matter of concern for most of us.?? A report prepared by Professor Anne St. John of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital indicates that 25 per cent of the school-aged population is obese or overweight.?? In light of this, the Ministry is currently considering having special clinics targeting overweight or obese and at risk children, with the requisite nutritional counselling and dietary interventions," he stated.

The Health Minister also expressed concern about the number of overweight adults in Barbados, attributing this to low levels of physical activity and the adoption of a westernised type of diet, which is high in saturated fats and cholesterol.

"Current statistics indicate that … the prevalence of overweight or obesity for females is 70 per cent and 56 per cent for males.?? This represents an increase over the last 10 to 15 years where females accounted for 65 per cent and males at 50 per cent.??

The Risk Factor Survey indicated that 53 per cent of the adult population engaged in low levels of physical activity; with females twice as likely to report low levels of physical activity," Mr. Inniss explained.

Adding that his Ministry would be seeking some four million dollars to execute its policies and programmes this year, the Minister, however, urged Barbadians to take the necessary steps to look after themselves in an effort to reduce the high cost of healthcare for this nation.

"The state will go broke if it adopts a policy of [allocating] an increasing amount of money to healthcare each financial year, without seeking to reduce expenditure in some unnecessary areas. Barbadians must realise that each one of us has a duty to take better care of our bodies and minds.?? To do all the things that you know you should not do, because you believe that Government will find the money to take care of you, is a rather na??ve attitude that is fraught with a great degree of selfishness," he cautioned.

The conference will end on Saturday, January 14, and is being attended by health personnel from throughout the region.


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