Striving to raise regional awareness about childhood obesity among children in the Caribbean, the Belize Cancer Society along with the Non-Communicable Disease-Childhood Obesity Prevention Alliance are partnering with the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) and various different organizations in order to raise public awareness about the severity of children living with obesity. Love News spoke Heather Reneau, the Senior Administrator of the Belize Cancer Society, who shed some light on how dominant obesity is in our country and the negative effects it has on a person.
Heather Reneau Senior Administrator of Belize Cancer Society: In Belize it’s according to the Global Health Survey in 2016. It’s about over 50% of adults of both sexes are considered obese and for kids it’s a bit over 28% for both sexes so it can be said that every one in three Caribbean child is considered overweight or obese. It is actually one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in our region at this point because people say obesity is not too important but when you think about renal failure, you think about kidney diseases, you think about cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypotension and for kids it gives them sometimes self esteem issues;, it gives them depression. They are not able to function as well as other kids in school so we want to raise the education on this and along with the Government and all the social partners I am positive that will be successful.
Reneau also spoke about the Childhood Obesity Prevention that the Belize Cancer Society has recently embarked on and encourages individuals to sign the petition which fights for sugar and fatty foods to be removed from schools.
Heather Reneau Senior Administrator of Belize Cancer Society: This childhood obesity initiative is part of a wider regional initiative spearheaded by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition so along with Belize there are a lot of other Caribbean countries that are partaking in this activity and its main purpose it to raise education and awareness of Sugar sweetened beverages. In Belize we are lobbying for a policy and possible legislation at some point in the future for our kids in schools and around the schools to have limited access to these sugar sweetened beverages and junk foods as they are very detrimental to their health.
According to Reneau, the child obesity campaign has been ongoing since the year has started, she thanks all the organizations involved in the campaign as well as the Ministry of Health, Education and Agriculture for their continuous efforts in creating a healthy eating environment within schools. She also wishes to encourage parents to instill healthy eating, drinking water and exercising in the homes.