Health Minister wants Dialogue on Ways to Curb Obesity

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (left), is greeted by Director of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Epidemiology Unit, Professor Marshall Tulloch-Reid (4th left), at a forum organised by the Caribbean Institute for Health Research (CAIHR), today (July 6), at the UWI Mona Campus, in St. Andrew. Others (from left) are Co-Investigator at the Unit, Professor Rainford Wilks; Advisor on Health System and Services at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Hedwig Goede, and retired UWI Professor, Alan Jackson.

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, has called for dialogue between producers of sugary concentrates and Government for the well-being of society.
  • According to the Minister, the producers should be part of a national dialogue with his Ministry and other stakeholders to curtail the high level of obesity in Jamaica, as the issue has long-term negative impact not only on the health system, but the economy.
  • He was addressing a forum on curbing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the region hosted by the Caribbean Institute for Health Research (CAIHR), at the University of the West Indies in St. Andrew today (July 6).

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, has called for dialogue between producers of sugary concentrates and Government for the well-being of society.

According to the Minister, the producers should be part of a national dialogue with his Ministry and other stakeholders to curtail the high level of obesity in Jamaica, as the issue has long-term negative impact not only on the health system, but the economy.

“The extent to which consumption of certain items will negatively affect persons and the society… will also reflect on those who provide those products. We have an obligation to the greater good of the society,” Dr. Tufton said.

He was addressing a forum on curbing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the region hosted by the Caribbean Institute for Health Research (CAIHR) at the University of the West Indies in St. Andrew today (July 6).

The CAIHR, under its initiative called Congregations Taking Action Against NCDs, is seeking to reduce preventable deaths in the Caribbean by disseminating health messages through places of worship. They have received support from several partners.

Dr. Tufton told the audience that the obesity levels among young people in Jamaica are alarming. “It is almost inevitable at that rate that persons will not only develop unhealthy habits, but the public-health system is going to be challenged,” the Minister said.

Those affected by obesity, the Minister reasoned, will have challenges to live healthy lives, and the issue of unhealthy diets cannot be ignored, hence the need for a “more constructive conversation”.

Representatives from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Jamaica Council of Churches, and the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches also addressed the forum.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are some of the illnesses classified as NCDs, and are preventable with lifestyle changes.

The Caribbean epidemic of NCDs is the worst in the Americas. NCDs cause more than 60 per cent of deaths in the region, and are the leading cause of premature deaths in Jamaica. High blood pressure affects 25 per cent of Jamaica’s population.

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