$1.3m. towards child obesity fight
One of this country’s leading charitable organisations is investing $1.3 million into fighting the serious state of obesity and overweight among children across Barbados.
With the latest official data revealing that more than 33 per cent of Barbadian children, aged nine to 10, especially girls, being overweight, and 17 per cent obese, the Lions Club of Barbados has decided to intervene.
And this morning, the organisation launched the “Barbados Lions Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Diabetes and Obesity in School Children” at The St. Michael School on Martindale’s Road.
Project Manager and Chairman of the Lions Clubs in Barbados, Dr. Carlisle Goddard told Barbados TODAY the local charity was embarking on a three-year pilot that involved the schools in the island. Goddard said the programme would focus on the third and fourth forms in the primary schools and first and second forms in the secondary.
The study seeks to examine the practises of children and adolescents ranging from ages eight to 13 years in randomly selected primary and secondary schools. Goddard said the study would impact eight secondary schools and 10 public primary schools, 100 school vendors, 400 teachers and 400 volunteers, 5,000 students and 15,000 parents.
“We are going to take all the children, two classes respectively, we’ll then do a questionnaire, see who is at risk in terms of lifestyle, chronic diseases and those who are currently overweight and also obese,” he added.
“And we’re going to select those children and give them a six month intervention on nutrition, healthy lifestyle choices, exercise and the various techniques where they can improve their overall body image and the healthy lifestyle concepts.”
He informed this newspaper that this would be re-enforced through the availability of lifestyle coaches and nutritionists to lend support during the six month intervention period.
The Lions Club chairman explained that the children would undergo refresher courses every six months to keep up their awareness, “and hopefully at the end of three years, we could see a change in all the students’ lifestyle, eating habits and weight loss”.
Promote healthier society
The goal of the project is to promote a healthier Barbadian population through the prevention of obesity and pre-diabetes among school children ages eight to 13. The objectives are to reduce the number of pre-diabetes/overweight/obese school children in Barbados; to create awareness about heart disease, diabetes and lipid disorders in children and adolescents through school-based intervention programmes; to examine the cultural influence of obesity in school children and to determine the associations of weight status with perceptions of body size, health and diet quality.
Other objectives are to build awareness among school vendors in nutritional standards to enable them to provide healthier food choices and to strengthen the capacity of in-school health care providers to identify and manage pre-diabetes/overweight/obese school children in Barbados.
While thanking a number of businesses for their sponsorship, Goddard said he was unhappy with the general response from corporate Barbados to supporting this important project. He said he also expect the ministries of health and education to come onboard to provide financial assistance, “since what we envisage that at the end of the three years to provide a policy framework for the two ministries for the children of Barbados”.
“Once this project is ended after the three years are over, we intend to implement the project in all the schools in Barbados,” he announced. (EJ)††