Saturday, April 14, 2012
The Ministry of Health continues its fight to decrease the risk of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (CNCDs) in this country. Today, the focus was on children as the Ministry held its first one day workshop on “Reducing Childhood Obesity” at the Language Learning Centre of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.
The workshop entitled “Managing Childhood Obesity” targeted 40 children between the ages of 7 – 12 from the county, St. George East. The objectives of the workshop include:
Enhancing the nutritional education of parents
Increasing the physical activity of the children in the programme
Improving the self esteem of the children in the programme
- Reducing the risk of CNCDs in children
Obesity in children has been steadily increasing in Trinidad and Tobago. Recent Ministry of Health and the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute data indicate that there has been a 300 per cent increase in children that are overweight and obese over the past ten (10) years, from just over 8 per cent in 2001 to 24 per cent in 2010.
Parents and children listen attentively to a dietician at the Managing Childhood Obesity workshop
Following health assessments of primary school students 7 – 12 years in County St. George East, students assessed as overweight or obese were referred to the Paediatrician at Wendy Fitzwilliam Hospital. Further evaluations conducted on these students revealed that many had elevated blood sugar, some had elevated cholesterol and some were diagnosed with diabetes.
Presenters at the workshop today, stressed the importance of taking steps to prevent obesity in children as it underlies a number of chronic diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases. Endocrinologist, Dr. Nicole Tilluckdharry, pointed out that the causes of childhood obesity which include a lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits are largely preventable.
Lifestyle coaching of children who are overweight or obese or have risk factors for the early development of CNCDs and education of their parents are key strategies to build new, healthy life skills for reducing risk and preventing early development of disease.
Childhood obesity can be decreased by adopting healthy eating habits, reducing fatty intakes, reducing sugars and regular exercise.