Heart Foundation warns parents about children's health
The Heart Foundation of Jamaica is appealing to parents to be more proactive in engaging children in healthy lifestyles. Executive Director of the foundation Deborah Chen pointed to the danger of allowing children to fall into a pattern of unhealthy eating and physical inactivity. "Parents need to be more aware of what they are giving their children to eat on a regular basis. They also need to make an effort to get them out of the house and engage them in physical activity rather than them sitting at a computer all day," she emphasised.
Director of non-communicable disease and injury prevention in the Ministry of Health Dr Tamu Davidson-Sadler pointed out that obesity in children and adolescents was a major concern for the ministry.
"Obesity is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Caribbean and globally, and the Caribbean has one of the highest rates of obesity, and with that, some of our key strategies and focus have been on tackling obesity in children and adolescents," she said. She noted that in addressing the issue of childhood obesity, the ministry, in collaboration with the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) developed an action plan in 2015, based on the national NCD plan, to tackle childhood obesity. The director said that the focus of the plan is on addressing some of the major risk factors around obesity in children.
"When we look at the issue of obesity in children, we are seeing where we have children growing up in an obesogenic (environment that encourages obesity) society, where there is heavy promotion of unhealthy products for children," Davidson-Sadler added. The director also cited the negative aspects of a sedentary lifestyle, where children are not playing outside as much as they should.