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Health Ministry planning to tackle child obesity

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The Ministry of Health is working on developing a wholistic plan of action to reduce child obesity in Antigua and Barbuda.
“We’re working on putting an obesity plan of action together,” the ministry’s non-communicable disease coordinator and head of its wellness committee, Valarie Williams told OBSERVER media yesterday.
She said that the ministry’s wellness committee is looking at the causes of obesity and what can be done with schools and parents.
“We have to ensure that the meals that are prepared for the children at school and home are healthy meals. We will also be working with the vendors and cafeteria operators at the school to get them involved in using healthy alternatives,” Williams said, stressing the need for a united front of businesses, and public and private agencies to make the effort successful.
Williams added that poor dieting and physical inactivity are the causes of obesity.
She said that the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) will provide financial assistance for the initiative and the World Health Organisation (WHO) will offer some resources.
“One of the things that we found from doing our research is that healthy snacks as an alternative to highly saturated fatty foods are very limited here, especially since we don’t produce a lot of our own foods, so we are now seeking local producers to see what they can provide as healthy food substitutes,” Williams said.
She also disclosed that the ministry is aware of the importance of competitions that motivate people to create such healthy snacks and it is an area the ministry is considering.
“The food and nutrition department’s school meals programme and nutritionists will work together so that the meals that are being prepared every day are healthy.”
 Williams also noted that working with the physical education (PE) teachers and the sports department within the ministry of education is vital to the process.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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