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Obesity Levels in CARICOM Countries Are the Highest Compared to the Rest of the World, And Alarmingly High in Our Children

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  11 March 2021.  This year the Caribbean and the World will commemorate World Obesity Day on 4 March under the theme “Every Body, Needs Everybody”.  Obesity is no longer only a problem in developed countries but is now a critical issue for developing countries, including CARPHA Member States (CMS), especially since this disease is affecting a significant number of children.

The Caribbean has some of the highest rates of overweight and obesity in the Americas with adults ranging from 18.9% in Antigua and Barbuda to 31.6% in the Bahamas. Alarmingly, overweight and obesity prevalence levels in children aged 5-9 years in CARICOM countries are increasing, and highest in the Bahamas at 39.5% and lowest in Saint Lucia at 26.1%.[1] The prevalence of obesity in Caribbean children is two to three times higher than the World.[2] With the obesity epidemic in children and adolescents, the future seen through the risk factor lens for Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) looks dismal, as these young persons will be the future working generation but living with higher rates of NCDs.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of persons with obesity, and other NCDs.  It is not yet clear why there is a link between COVID-19 and obesity, however an increased susceptibility to respiratory problems, inflammation, and immunological disturbances in people living with obesity may all be contributing factors. Obesity also has a number of NCD co-morbidities such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease which have also been shown to increase risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes.[3] 

Obesity is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental factors and behavioural factors, such as physical inactivity and unhealthy diet.  However, the obesogenic environment, which is usually driven by factors outside of the individual’s control, makes the healthy choice the difficult choice to take. Persons with obesity also face stigma and discrimination due to their weight that can lead to poor emotional well-being, and low self-esteem.

Realising that a whole of society approach is necessary to reduce the burden of obesity and diet related NCDs, CARPHA continues to support its member states and collaborate with regional and international organisations in an effort to minimize the impact of obesity in the Caribbean region.  Some initiatives spearheaded by CARPHA to combat childhood obesity include the Six-Point Policy Package which sets out priority areas for action on mandatory food labelling, nutritional standards and guidelines for schools, and reduction in the marketing of unhealthy foods.

CARPHA, in collaboration with Ministries of Health and Education in Grenada and Saint Lucia, implemented an intervention in schools to promote healthy environments and diets to prevent obesity and diabetes.  ‘Reversing the Rise in Childhood Obesity’ was funded by the World Diabetes Foundation. As part of the project, a recipe book Kids Can Cook Too was developed to support sustained healthy eating behaviours of children.

No single intervention will combat obesity. This is why “Every Body, Needs Everybody”.

CARPHA joins the rest of the world in commemorating “World Obesity Day” to raise awareness and encourage the “whole of society approach” where every body can work together for happier, healthier and longer lives for everybody.

Caribbean countries should recommit efforts to fighting childhood obesity by:

  • Developing, implementing or enforcing policies aimed at facilitating the consumption of healthy diets and increasing physical activity, such as, clear and simple front of packaging labelling.
  • Combatting social stigma associated with obesity
  • Ensuring access to care for persons who want help to maintain a healthy weight

Individuals can do their part by becoming more physically active by moving more and reducing the consumption of salt, fats and sugar and increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables.   CARPHA as part of its ongoing support to Member States, will continue to assist countries in developing and implementing tools to reduce obesity, especially childhood obesity, in collaboration with our development partners.

Our children are our future and have a right to health. Let us protect it. “Every Body, Needs Everybody”.

Media Release: CARPHA

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Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.

He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.

While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell  explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.

“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”

He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue.  The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that  TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.

“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”

Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”

“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.

He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.

“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”

Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.

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Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – Former Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Lanisha Rolle is reportedly currently under investigation due to several allegations that came up during her tenure; she however knows nothing of this alleged criminal investigation.

After the minister resigned – unceremoniously –  in February 2021 with little explanation, the ministry was locked down by the Prime Minister for an audit of the National Sports Authority, which fell under her ministry.

Auditor General Terrance Bastin revealed that unauthorised contracts had been issued, some of which were later forwarded to the NSA for payment. Three cheques to contractors were also found, which were paid to individuals and then collected by a senior ministry official.

Despite the allegations, Rolle said she upheld cabinet standards and good governance during her tenure. She added that a minister is not always aware of “everything in a ministry at any given time.”

Rolle said she has not yet been approached by the RBPF regarding the audit findings.  Having served as a member of the Police Force for 11 years herself, Rolle told a crush of media on Wednesday (November 23) that she continues to trust that they will follow the legal process and in due time, the truth of her innocence will be revealed.

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MYSC set to begin training for National Youth Guard

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Robyn Adderley, BIS

#FREEPORT, The Bahamas, November 25, 2022 – Officials from the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture along with members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Defence Force toured the Police Training College on Tuesday, November 22 in preparation of the start of the Bahamas National Youth Guard training programme.

Sandena Neely, Head of the Division of Youth, explained that the Bahamas National Youth Guard is a programme designed to train young Bahamians to serve during a national disaster.

Participants are to be between the ages of 18 and 25 and Bahamians willing to serve their country.

“In the event of a natural disaster, we want to implement a strategy where young Bahamians are going to be able to facilitate being a part of every part of the national disaster plan from prevention and mitigation all the way to recovery.”

She explained that they were touring the Police College in Grand Bahama because it is the proposed site for their three-month training. Training starts in January and will include Bahamians nationwide to be trained, skilled and certified so that they can return to their communities and serve.

The 27-month programme starts with three months of training, followed by three months of internship during which time they will receive a stipend, and then they will be on-call for the remaining 21 months. If they are called to serve during that period, they will receive an additional stipend.

While touring the campus, the delegation started with the auditorium where most of the time would be spent. In there, along with the all-purpose room, there are three classrooms and one computer lab.

The delegation was comprised of Ministry of Youth officials Undersecretary Montez Williams, Ms. Neely, Deputy Director of Sports Northern Bahamas Norris Bain, Youth Programmes Coordinator for the Grand Bahama Office Carla Brown-Roker, Programme Officer Kenneth Frazier, Youth Officer Kenneth Miller, Communications Officer Lamar Matthews and Kree Hanna, Administrative Assistant. From the Royal Bahamas Police Force there was ACP Dellareece Ferguson, ACP Kenwood Taylor, ACP Craig Stubbs, ACP Theophilus Cunningham and Assistant Superintendent Randolph Deleveaux.  Daryl Jones represented the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.

Then it was off to touring the dormitories that are equipped to house 32 males and 12 females.

The Bahamas National Youth Guard is being facilitated by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and joined by partners from the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, NEMA, DRA, Social Services, the National Drug Council, the Ministry of Health and Wellness and others.

Programme Officer, Kenneth Frazier, Youth Officer at the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture said training will begin the second week in January in Grand Bahama. The focus is on Grand Bahama and Abaco because those two islands are hardest hit by storms.

“We understand that people here are aware and understand what is needed for the persons in this programme.”

When disasters strike, he said, people within their own communities ought to be able to assist as soon as possible. As such, the call has gone out all over the country to get people to sign up for the programme.

“The idea is to have people within each community to have the skills needed to help mitigate response every part of the national disaster.”
The delegation then paid a courtesy call on the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Grand Bahama, Melvin Seymour, when they shared details of the programme.

According to Neely, “Stakeholders are the way that we operate. They are our arms, our feet, our legs. They help us to walk and help us to service. We are a youth development agency, but we know when and where to look for our partners who can help us to bring programmes to life.”

The programme, Ms. Neely further explained, came to being because it is important for residents to be able to assist themselves.

She closed with, “We want to build a generation of Bahamians who are able to help ourselves whenever a disaster or some emergency happens in our country.”

 

Photo Captions:

Header: A group from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, led by Undersecretary Montez Williams, travelled to Grand Bahama to tour the Police Training College where the three-month training programme for the National Youth Guard is set to begin in January. The tour took place on Tuesday, November 22 and included staff from the Ministry of Youth, the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. (BIS Photo/Andrew Miller)

1st insert: A tour of the dorms at the Police Training College was on the agenda as the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture is set to begin a three-month training programme for the Bahamas National Youth Guard in January. Sandena Neely, Head of the Division of Youth, is seen discussing what will be needed during the tour on Tuesday, November 22. (BIS Photo/Andrew Miller)

2nd insert:  A delegation from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force on Tuesday, November 22, toured the classrooms of the Police Training College in Freeport. The three-month training programme for the Bahamas National Youth Guard is set to begin the second week in January. (BIS Photo/Andrew Miller)

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