by Kimberley Cummins
A healthy lifestyles should not begin when a person is sick, but rather it should start with the children.
Girls especially need to be encouraged to be more active straight through their youth.
This was the observation of Carla Ramsay, nutritionist and coordinator of a healthy lifestyles camp hosted by the Heart & Stroke Foundation, which ran for two weeks, from August 20 to 31.
“You find that boys do more physical activity, girls are at the age where they don’t want to sweat, they don’t want to engage in any kind of physical activity, but we want to encourage them because later in life they would avoid the diabetes, the high cholesterol, high blood pressure. There are health challenges that can come if you don’t start now.
“That is a problem we are having now, in general if you look around Barbados you would find, especially the females population, seems to be growing in weight and size and it is happening a lot with the school children. If we can target them … they would have information so they won’t have that problem when they get 20 and 30,” said Ramsay.
It was the first year for the camp and the 24 participants, 13 boys and 11 girls, learnt of ways to cook healthy meals while also exploring more ways of engaging in healthy lifestyles.
They were encouraged to drink water, they toured plants and witnessed how food was produced. They hiked through St. Joseph; did taste tests, played badminton, cricket, football and water war on the lush lawns of the Castle Grant Estate also in St. Joseph where they were housed and most importantly, where they were active.
Ramsay, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that the camp had actually helped some of the campers.
She said the camp was not deemed as a weight loss programme, rather it was to teach the teenagers how to live a healthy life. She noted that some people believed because someone had a small shape they were healthy but often that was not the case.
Before the camp started, a baseline was taken involving measurements of the participants’ weight, height, body mass index and blood pressure.
She said while they would repeat the test tomorrow she had already seen a difference in the youngsters as many of them were more mobile.
“[W]e went to Miami Beach on Tuesday. We didn’t go into the water but the guys played football and we found all the girls sat. We gathered them and we walked up and down the beach to get them more active; then they found a crab which actually started the whole thing. Everybody started to run from this crab — fun ways to get active not thinking about doing it.”
She however expressed concern about the young population at large.
“A lot in our population have high blood pressure in their 20s and females tend to not look after themselves. They tend to put everybody before themselves, but if it is something we can garner our children to take care of their health now as opposed to pain later — medication wise or health wise — it would be a good investment,” she said.
Ramsay said there were other programmes planned and that they were looking to put in place to keep the momentum and flow of information going.
After the camp, there will be an evaluation where organisers will look to see what other activities could occur in the near future, even if only on weekends.