Wednesday, 2 April 2014

HCC frowns on advertising of unhealthy foods to children

“Nowhere in the Caribbean are there policies that speak to the advertising of unhealthy foods to children.”

Professor Sir Trevor Hassell, President of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) noted the above, as he outlined some of the main findings of the recently launched Regional Status Report on NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases) in the Caribbean. The 80-page Report which was sponsored by the HCC, was launched in Trinidad and Tobago on March 20, during the NCD Child Conference event held there at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The one of a kind Report gives an assessment of what has been achieved in the fight against the NCDs epidemic in the Caribbean, what has not been achieved, and it also outlines what needs to be done to slow the epidemic.

Speaking at press briefing held at Sagicor Headquarters, Wildey, St. Michael, Barbados on Monday to discuss the Report and other landmark HCC initiatives, HCC President Professor Sir Trevor Hassell, noted that the key findings in the Report suggest that there are no national policies against advertising of unhealthy foods to children or against the harmful use of alcohol. Also, no CARICOM country has national policies or major initiatives aimed at reducing salt intake of the population, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure, which is a major cause of heart disease for Caribbean people.

“We also found in the status Report, that with respect to alcohol abuse, there are very few policies, if any at all, around issues of alcohol abuse. Furthermore, few countries have got policies around population salt reduction. This is an important issue, because, as I have said on many occasions, excessive salt or sodium chloride intake contributes significantly to the large numbers of hypertensive persons we’ve got in Barbados, and as you know, hypertension leads to heart disease,” Hassell revealed.

Hassell noted that in terms of inadequacies, the Report highlights the absence of up to date management guidelines for the treatment of chronic diseases. Against this background, he said, there is a “call to action” from the Report, which speaks to recommendations that should be adopted throughout the Caribbean.

The Report advocates for a ban on or at the very least a limit on the marketing of energy dense, high salt foods and beverages to children. It also calls for a reduction in salt consumption and a reduction in the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages (including fruit juices), as well as a ban on the use and sale of transfats in Caribbean countries.

The Report, amongst other things, also calls for the development of policies on physical activity and the development, implementation and monitoring of national strategies on the promotion of physical activity.

The full Report can be viewed at (RSM)

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