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80 per cent of Jamaican women overweight

Published:Monday | March 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM

CAUTIONING THAT obesity is one of the main causative factors for breast and colon cancers, acting chief medical officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr Kevin Harvey, is pointing to an urgent need for lifestyle changes.

Harvey, who along with officials from the health ministry appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, divulged that 80 per cent of Jamaican women were overweight.

He also highlighted excessive use of alcohol and poor physical activity as contributory factors to cancer.

The senior health official said the ministry will soon be focusing attention on nutrition issues following the imposition of regulations to ban smoking in public spaces.

revised dietary guideline

"We are going to come out soon with our revised food-based dietary guideline, which is that plate which shows you what proportions of food you should eat. We are going to look at labelling standards for fast food and the food industry to look at labelling for calorie counts, sugar fat and salt contents," Harvey explained.

PAC member Pearnel Charles argued that the best approach to dealing with cancer is to promote a healthier lifestyle.

"It is exciting that if people knew that you can avoid these things by the way you live and what you eat, you won't have to be running down radiotherapy," Charles said.

He urged the health ministry to stage public-education drives to sensitise persons of the dangers of particular lifestyle practices.