Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Health minister emphasises need for behaviour change to reduce obesity

Published:Wednesday | July 18, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton addresses the National Parent Teacher Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ) 6th Biennial General Meeting and Conference, held at Jamaica College on Saturday.

Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton said there is a need for heightened discussions on behaviour change initiatives that will lead to improved lifestyle choices.

Delivering the keynote address at the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ) 6th Biennial General Meeting and Conference at Jamaica College on Saturday, Tufton said this was necessary, as obesity levels have doubled in the past seven years among school-aged children.

"If it continues on that trajectory, it means that our children are going to be, at a very early age, having disease profiles that will affect their productivity, and devastate family resources," the minister said.

Statistics from the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey, 2007-8, show that 25.3 per cent of Jamaicans are obese.

Dr Tufton noted that obesity is a serious threat to an individual's well-being, adding that if not brought under control "will just damage us as a people, and as a county."

Meanwhile, the health minister is urging the NPTAJ to assist in promoting a balanced diet as a means of reducing the levels of obesity in the society, adding that schools also have a role to play.

Tufton said the Government is playing its part to combat unhealthy lifestyle choices with the introduction of the 'Jamaica Moves' programme in high schools this September.

Speaking during his contribution to the 2018-19 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives in June, the health minister noted that the programme will be introduced in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

This introduction is to be guided by a nutrition policy, a physical activity regime, as well as public education on health and wellness programmes.

Jamaica Moves is part of the National Strategic and Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases, which covers seven main categories of diseases - cardiovascular conditions, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, sickle cell, mental health disorders and chronic renal failure.