Wed | Dec 12, 2018

Parenting head fears Jamaica will have schools filled with diabetics

Published:Thursday | January 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Thalia Lyn (right) founder and Chief Executive Officer of Island Grill chain of fast food restaurants discusses healthy eating with Deborah Chen (second right) executive director, The Heart Foundation of Jamaica, Dr Andrene Chung (second right) consultant cardiologist Chair, The Heart Foundation of Jamaica and DrTamu Davidson (left) general practioner/public health specialist and director of non-communicabled disease Unit in the the Ministry of Health during the Heart Foundation of Jamaica Launch of Heart Month.

Kaysia Kerr, head of the National Parenting Support Commission, fears that if nothing is put in place urgently to address the high levels of sugar intake among the youth population, most of Jamaica's schools will be filled with diabetics.

Speaking with The Gleaner during the launch of Heart Month on Tuesday at Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston, Kerr said the parenting commission will be taking the initiative to sensitise parents on healthier choices for their children.

"I am privy to the data, and it is really startling. To think that high schoolers if nothing ,is done to change their attitude towards food, will be diagnosed with type two diabetes, really brings to fore the gravity of the situation. It's my responsibility to take the information to our parents, to ensure that they start changing the mindsets where food is concerned," she told The Gleaner.

"Educators have long found a correlation between the hyperactivity we are seeing among our children and the sugar intake because they have to expend the energy. Unfortunately, our children are not playing as much, and so that energy is expended in the classroom," she continued.

Kerr said from her observations, parents want to learn more, and as such, they will be playing their part as a commission to fill that gap.

"As a commission, we too, need to get moving; we sit down a lot for meetings and we sit down a lot to plan,we also drive to meetings- We need to lead by example and get moving so that when we take the message out there, we too are living the lifestyle," she said.

"Every parent wants to be healthy, but Jamaicans have a sweet tooth. We have an affinity for sugar, so it's just about encouraging and starting the conversation about excessive sugar intake. I don't think parents are averse to being healthy. What we need to start is the conversation."