Wednesday, 25 September 2013

CARPHA fighting childhood obesity

The newly established Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) along with member states have set the strategic goal of reducing avoidable deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25% by 2025.

This was disclosed by Dr. C. James Hospedales, Executive Director of CARPHA, in his message for Caribbean Wellness Day, which was celebrated on Saturday, September 14.

“We will also seek to reduce and reverse the levels of childhood obesity. At CARPHA, we see that the need to act is paramount to safeguard the health of our children. And we promise to act – together with member states and our partners in health, civil society and the private sector. We will advocate for social and policy changes that reduce and reverse the epidemic of obesity in our children,” he said.

Dr. Hospedales highlighted that Caribbean countries have some of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the world.

According to him, 1 in 3 and 1 in 5 of the region’s adolescents are either overweight or obese.

“This is mainly due to poor dietary intake and low levels of physical activity,” he acknowledged.

“Particularly worrying are the low levels of consumption of fruits and vegetables and high levels of consumption of carbonated beverages in our schools.

“This is not only a matter of individual choice, but a matter of environments that promote obesity, for example the easy availability of high fats, salt and sugar in food; the heavy advertising of junk food to children; and a high level of screen time, watching television and video games.”

In keeping with the role at CARPHA, to prevent disease, promote and protect health, Dr. Hospedales also revealed that they will be implementing a multi-level programme to promote healthy weight and prevent and control childhood obesity.

“This comprehensive programme was successful in changing the lifestyles of children in France and in reducing the problem of obesity. At CARPHA, a scientific expert group has identified this as a unique best practice globally.

“However, there will need to be significant support and investment from the public and private sectors and I remain confident that this will occur given the need to protect the health
of our children,” he assured. (TL)

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