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There are renewed calls for the population to eat healthy foods for sustainable health and well-being and to pay careful attention to labels on food packages.
Leading the charge at the Caribbean Nutrition Day, held at the St. William Grant Park in downtown Kingston on June 1, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie said with the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Jamaica, they affect almost every family.
“What we eat is important in determining if we get these diseases. If we start paying attention to what we eat from we are young, it can lead to good health,” she said, adding that “we need to cut down on the sugary drinks and the salty foods.”
The event was held under the theme ‘Healthy Eating Active Living: Read it Before You Eat It’, and exposed patrons to NCD screening, nutrition education, food demonstration and sampling, physical activity counselling and workout sessions, as well as entertainment.
Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie emphasised that children should be encouraged to eat healthy, and to avoid fried foods, arguing that adults should lead the way by consuming nutritious foods.
“That will help you to control sugar (diabetes) and blood pressure, if you have it, and to help you prevent it,” she added.
The CMO pointed out that with more physical activity, together with healthier eating habits, there will be a reduction of NCDs, popularly called lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes, noting that more than 70 per cent of deaths each year are due to NCDs.
In the coming weeks, the Ministry of Health and Wellness will be launching a campaign to pay attention to the contents of foods and assisting persons to read food labels, so that they know and understand exactly what is in the things that they eat and drink.
Meanwhile, Director of Health Promotion and Protection in the Ministry, Dr. Simone Spence, told JIS News that efforts are being made “to increase awareness and understanding among the population about what they are consuming, so that they can make healthier choices”.
The Day is celebrated across the Caribbean region with the objective to promote increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and to encourage people to be more active, whether it is walking or some form of sporting activity.