Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Dietary choices in modern Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | March 23, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Professor Marvin Reid

'Overfed and Undernourished: Dietary Choices in Modern Jamaica' was the topic former GraceKennedy scholar Professor Marvin Reid focused on at the annual GraceKennedy Foundation Lecture at The Jamaica Pegasus last week.

In his 45-minute-long presentation on nutrition, Reid highlighted the various challenges across all sectors of the Jamaican demographic caused by wrong food choices.

He pointed out that the country spends approximately $80 billion on lifestyle-related illnesses per year, including diabetes and hypertension. He noted that obesity was also becoming an issue in Jamaica, as shown in the 2008 Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey, which reported that 25 per cent of the Jamaican population was obese.

At the same time, he said, undernutrition was also a significant issue.

Reid stated that all stakeholders had a role to play in creating a healthier, productive population.

Giving examples of the right food choices, he noted that individuals had to take responsibility for what they put into their bodies and those of their children. He added that the Government also had a role to play in addressing the dietary issues faced by the population.

He treated the attendees inside the filled-to-capacity ballroom to a range of solutions to address their personal dietary choices, including monitoring the number of calories in each meal.

He also urged mothers to breastfeed their children for the first six months of their lives (at the very least), as breast-feeding has been shown to be critical to the overall development of the child, especially in later years.

For the first time this year, the GraceKennedy Foundation introduced its #ChooseMyPlate competition, where high schools with a food and nutrition lab, offering the subject at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate level, were encouraged to upload video entries of preparation of a healthy meal using $2,000 worth of (mainly Grace) products.

Three schools - one from each county - were awarded a $75,000 grant towards their food and nutrition lab. Each student, as well as the teachers involved, also won $5,000 gift certificates courtesy of Hi-Lo.

The winners were Godfrey Stewart High School (Cornwall), Charlemont High School (Middlesex), and Excelsior High School (Surrey). The schools also got the opportunity to display their winning meals at the lecture.