Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Mental side effects must be included in obesity fight

Published:Thursday | February 15, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Camille Graham, a research manager at the Early Childhood Commission, shows what five pounds of fat look like at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica’s Global Health Advocacy Campaign Obesity Prevention programme at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday.


Dr Abigail Harrison, president of the Paediatric Association of Jamaica, said it was crucial that the fight against obesity should not be seen only for the physical side effects, but also include ways to inform the public of the serious psychological impact that can accrue.

Harrison was speaking at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica's Global Health Advocacy Campaign Obesity Prevention programme, which was held at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday.

The medical practitioner indicated that issues of depression are real and are often linked to body image and self-perceptions. She also stressed that parents have a responsibility to sure that their children are taught healthy practices from a tender age, so they develop good lifestyle habits.

"One of the things that we have to watch out for, too, with young people is that when they are overweight, they have other issues. They often don't feel as good about themselves because young people tease them and they are harassed," Harrison advised.

"There was a young girl who I saw last week in clinic who has not been to school for a month because she gets teased due to being overweight. Can you imagine living with that? A lot of them end up with depressive symptoms."

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton added that in the same way parents make sure that their children do their homework as well as protect them from abuse and harm, a similar methodology should be employed to ensure that children avoid unhealthy foods and practices.