Fri | Jul 20, 2018

Addressing poverty will lead to success in healthy lifestyle campaigns – Tufton

Published:Thursday | February 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Port Morant Primary School students performing at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica's Global Health Advocacy Campaign Obesity Prevention programme at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday.

In pushing for children to eat healthier food, the dire socio-economic constraints that some families face should not be ignored, says Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton.

In addressing persons at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica's Global Health Advocacy Campaign Obesity Prevention programme, Tufton said the social and economic inequities that exist require an urgent response.

"I was particularly interested in some of the critical variables that should support our efforts of behavioural change in the interest of healthier lifestyles. We are cognisant of our environment, but that is driven by certain fundamentals and we have recognise and adjust those fundamentals in the interest of the greater good," he said at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday.

"There is a lot of inequity within our society, and believe it or not, social and economic inequity contributes to the health profile of children. We often talk about the bag juice and how unhealthy it is, but frankly speaking, the reality is there are families and children out there who are given a dose of that (bag juice) multiple times a day. This is because of economic circumstances, lack of knowledge and other socio-economic issues. It creates a lot of inequities that require a response. To ignore it is to allow the problem to continue and expand."

Hinting at his studies in marketing, he admitted that promotions are powerful strategies of influence but advised companies to sell their products responsibly.

"The other factor is the power of marketing. The reality is that if you have the resources and you understand the science of how people think, act and respond, then you can do a lot in terms of influence. The reality is, in a free market environment that is what companies do, they compete for the attention and support of consumers and they have a right to do so," said the minister.

"We are not criticising them for it, we are only saying do so responsibly and with a social conscience."

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com