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Jamaicans Eating Themselves Into The Grave, Health Expert Warns

Jamaica’s obesity problem just keeps getting bigger.

Obesity rates among adults have climbed from 45 per cent in 2002, to 54 per cent in 2008, and up to the end of last year, the rate stood at 60 per cent.

It’s a major worry for Professor of Public Health and Nutrition Fitzroy Henry who told the Jamaica Observer that obesity is at the root of a growing epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which is costing the Government more than $170 million per year to treat.

“The main causes of death in Jamaica include heart disease, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, stroke, which are all related to obesity,” he warned, adding that two out of every three deaths locally result from NCDs.

Henry is now leading a charge through the newly established National Food Industry Task Force to turn the problem around.

He was speaking at yesterday’s launch of the taskforce, which is mandated to get Jamaicans to stop eating themselves to the grave.

Henry, a University of Technology Professor, says the task force will be seeking to implement programmes to curtail the impact of obesity and chronic disease.

Topping his concerns is the high level of sugar and fat consumed among Jamaicans.

“The daily target for sugar per day in children is about 25 grammes or five teaspoons. For adults, it’s about 50 grammes, which is about 10 teaspoons,” he said

Henry said the global figures show Jamaica, Kuwait and Barbados topping the list of children between 13 and 15 years old who consume more than one bottle of soda daily.

“Seventy-five percent of boys between the ages of 13 and 15 drink more than one soda per day, on average, according to the Global School-based Student Health Survey in 2010. The girls in Jamaica are ranked third, only beaten by Kuwait and Barbados. We have serious problems,” he said.

The 18-member task force, which falls under the Ministry of Health, will also probe the level of sugar, salt and trans fat in foods.

It is also expected to advocate for better labeling of products to help Jamaicans make wiser food choices.

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Comment by stephen myers on March 27, 2019 at 5:55pm

Perfect wat to genocide fools......poison the food supply.

Comment by KingLion212 on August 17, 2017 at 2:26pm

Cut out the fast food! KFC is good but it will kill unu!

Comment by Vinny Pat on April 2, 2017 at 5:15pm
It's easier to kill 1 million ppl than to control them... Don't remember the person who quoted that
Comment by Georgette Yapp on March 31, 2017 at 7:58am
There need to be more awareness of obesity in Jamaica. We understand that in Jamaica we have more fast food chains and people are not walking miles like before to catch a bus, walk to work or school There should be more commercials and educational programs about obesity... The cause, effects, prevention and treatments. Start eating less sugar and starchy products drink more water and exercise more often.
Comment by Mikey Massive on March 31, 2017 at 7:22am

You have some Jamaicans always claim they are proud of their big belly and love them pork and not listening "to no foolishness 'ca a so we 'tan".....until them get sick and then want sympathy because, of course, it's everyone else's fault but not due to the choices they make as individuals

Comment by Karen dickey on March 31, 2017 at 6:18am
Comment by Ivan Butcher II on March 30, 2017 at 5:18pm

Dr. Francisco Contreras, Internal Surgeon and a leading advocate of alternative cancer therapy, has a video presentation discussing the fact that most of his patients are the devout Christians who deny themselves of all the pleasures of the flesh except for gluttony. Worse yet, they are eating too much of all of the wrong foods according to the Bible.

Comment by lyssa on March 30, 2017 at 4:57pm

Obesity is not exclusive to Jamaica. This is a problem worldwide and certainly throughout the Caribbean. The leading causes of death in the Caribbean region are: Heart attacks and Strokes; Cancer; Diabetes and Dementia.  Obesity definitely complicates some of these conditions.

Type 2 Diabetes which is closely linked to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, is especially prevalent in the Caribbean. A 2016 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that if current trends continue, nearly 110 million people in the Caribbean region will have diabetes by 2040. 

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the Caribbean. Breast cancer is the main cause of cancer death among Caribbean females, followed by cervical cancer. Among Caribbean men, prostate cancer is the number one cause of cancer death followed by lung cancer. For both men and women in the Caribbean, colon and rectum cancers are the third most common cause of cancer death.

Urgent need to focus on Prevention 

Prevention is the key to reducing deaths from heart disease, cancer and diabetes and as a consequence deaths and costs from these diseases in the Caribbean.  Breast cancer can be detected early and treated successfully. Cervical cancer is thought to be the most preventable through education, vaccination against the human papilloma virus (HPV), screening, early detection and treatment. Deaths in the Caribbean due to prostate cancer can be reduced through prevention, screening, early detection, and effective treatment. 

Individuals must take action and governments must also create conditions where citizens can more easily make healthy lifestyle choices.

Individual Prevention Responsibilities

  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit alchohol
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Cut down on red meat
  • Eliminate processed foods
  • Reduce sugary beverages
  • Cut down on salt intake
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get regular, moderate physical activity

Governments Prevention Actions

  • Increase taxes on sugary drinks
  • Add front-of-package labelling showing excessive sugar, salt and fat in processed foods
  • Fund education and greater public awareness campaigns that promote prevention and healthy lifestyle practices

Comment by vaughn mitchell on March 30, 2017 at 4:49pm
That is what happen when Jamaican s develop bad eating habits from Americans. Too many fast food restaurant.
Comment by judy maya on March 30, 2017 at 4:28pm
Growing up in Jamaica there was no American fast food franchise except KFC. Now in Kingston when I visited there is every single one besides McDonalds and that is because a Jamaican already had a restaurant with that name and some naming rights issue happened (details of which I cannot remember but David beat Goliath) They are not even equipped to deal with the health issues that come from this unhealthy diet!! SMH

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