(by Nazima Raghubir)
World Health Organisation 2011 Info base has placed obesity in the Region as rising.
In Barbados, obesity among women was some 57% and men 23%, Trinidad and Tobago, women, 55% and men, 16%, Dominica, women, 54% and men 25%, Jamaica, women, 46%, men 7%. This information was presented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation during the Caribbean Week of Agriculture.
There are efforts to tackle obesity in the region through nutrition with the use of agriculture. The CIFSRF Caricom Food and Security Project, From Farm to Fork being done with the University of the West Indies, McGill’s University in Canada with aid from the International Development and Research Centre can make a major difference. Isabella Granderson, Project leader at the Department of the Agricultural Economics and Extension, Faculty of Food and Agriculture at UWI explained that obesity in the region has taken on a new face within the last 30 years.
“ We are now seeing a change in nutrition related programmes, we are seeing a decline in malnutrition, however we are also aware that there are pockets within the region still, anemia remains a public health issue and so too obesity and its nutrition related life style diseases affect many adults and is increasing among children and adolescents.”
The aim of the project is to tackle obesity and other health related problems at an early stage in children’s lives, like though school feeding programme. Granderson said it has worked elsewhere like Norway.
“It was referred to as the Oslo Breakfast and they provided students with half a pint milk, whole wheat bread, cheese, half an orange, half of an apple and during the months of September to March they were provided with one dose of cod liver oil… what were the results? They observed that the children were free from usual skin complaints or diseases as well as boys were gained in height, about 26% more than those not involved in the school feeding programme”
In the region, a small project in Jamaica using enriched buns along with a glass of milk showed results among some children found to be malnourished. The From Farm to Fork Project has already seen results with children in the islands of Trinidad and Tobago and St. Kitss and Nevis receiving improve school meals consisting of vegetables and fruits produced locally.