JAMAICA-HEALTH-Health Minister wants talks with producers to deal with obesity

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jul 8, CMC – Jamaica is calling for dialogue between producers of sugar concentrates and the authorities to curtail the high level of obesity in the country.
Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, said the talks between the producers and government are for the well-being of society 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,” Tufton said.
Addressing a forum on curbing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the region hosted by the Caribbean Institute for Health Research (CAIHR) earlier this week, Tufton said 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,” he added.
He said those affected by obesity will have challenges to live healthy lives, and the issue of unhealthy diets cannot be ignored, hence the need for a “more constructive conversation”.
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.
Representatives from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Jamaica Council of Churches, and the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches also participated in the forum with delegates being told that 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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