Letter of the Day | Good move by government to improve health
The EDITOR, Sir:
The Heart Foundation of Jamaica notes with pleasure the recent measures undertaken by the Government of Jamaica to improve the health of the nation by way of voluntary and mandatory means. The formation of the National Food Industry Task Force and the 'Jamaica Moves' initiative are two of those measures which have recently been publicised. In addition, the directive from the Ministry of Education to ban 'bag juice' and other sugary drinks in schools is also welcomed.
Critics of these measures have stated that these initiatives are not enough, or not well thought out. We must be careful that we do not stifle fledgling efforts, which are necessary, with unfair criticism.
While we do agree that acceptable, and especially affordable, alternatives to bag juice and other sugary drinks need to be available for children to consume, we do not believe that the Ministry of Education should wait to remove these unhealthy drinks from schools.
Research has shown that sugary drinks are the number one cause of obesity in children. Parents should encourage children to quench their thirst with water. In addition, although there are other unhealthy foods to be found in school menus, the adjustment of these menus must be done gradually in order to be acceptable to the children who will be affected by it. Lifestyle modification is the least palatable of all health initiatives. Incredible as it seems, many people would rather take a pill than restrict their diet or increase their activity.
GET JA MOVING
We also laud the efforts of the minister of health to get Jamaica moving. We know that there are not enough green spaces, especially in Kingston, but persons must be encouraged to start increasing their activity now and using the spaces that are available. We also encourage the Ministry of Education to rethink the current practice of discontinuing physical education at grade nine in junior and secondary high schools.
We welcome these initiatives and encourage both ministers to continue their efforts at improving the health of the nation.
DR ANDRENE CHUNG
Heart Foundation of Jamaica