Word to deaf ears?
In spite of all the education, workshops and fairs, diabetes and obesity continues to be a major headache for health officials in Barbados.
Furthermore, chairman on the board of trustees on the Barbados Diabetes Foundation, Dr Oscar Jordan, told Barbados TODAY that he was very concerned their messages were not penetrating to Barbadians.
Speaking after the launch of the Diabetes Month of activities this morning at the Barbados Yacht Club in Bay Street, St Michael, he disclosed that there was an increase in the number of adults on the island having more major amputations than before. In addition, he said that there was also a trend of more children developing Type 2 diabetes, which was more often seen in adults.
”Something is not working . . . we need to educate parents as much, or more than we need to educate children. We need to educate teachers… we need to increase the awareness and knowledge of the entire society,” he lamented. ”It is a much bigger problem than what people think – it is a massive problem. And unless we tackle it in a strategic systematic way you can throw all the money you like at it, hold all the fairs you like every day of the week and the problem will keep coming.
He further said: “By the results of what is happening out there we have seen no reduction in the rate of increase in obesity or diabetes that is why we have to look at different directions, a different degree of motivation. We need to go
into the schools, look at children who are at risk and go to the parents and say ‘Look I am aware that you are getting $200 a week but how best can you spend that to ensure that you eat healthy and therefore avoid the expenses of doctor bills?’ Eating right, exercise so you have to hammer it and hammer it . . .”.
Over the years Barbados has adopted the moniker “the
amputation capital of the world” and Jordan noted for this to change the gap between knowledge and motivation must be bridged. He stressed, moreover, that the foundation would persist despite their methods thus far bearing little fruit because they were of the opinion that the implications of obesity and diabetes needed to be reinforced into the psyches of Bajans for them to heed the warnings.
“You can tell people what to do and educate them to that degree and they don’t necessarily do it. Have you ever been to [a fast food outlet] on a Friday night or a Thursday night or a Wednesday night . . . ?
“We have to use all the different psychological approaches to get them to live right. It’s a challenge because people who have organized the fast food chains have done a lot of psychological assessment of how people behave in order to get them to eat there.
“We have to work with them to use the same psychological approaches to get them to eat healthy and then we have to work on the fast food chains and tell them they have to produce healthy foods. Over the ten years children are getting fatter and are predisposed to diabetes and its complications so we have to reinforce it, drive it, we have to be over-bearing,” he said.
This year the month will be celebrated with an inaugural 5k walk/run on November 9. There will be health checks and membership drives, an open day and market day, a hike and picnic to Barclays Park in St. Andrew, a Latin and ballroom show as well as a panel discussion and a blue circle day. World Diabetes Day will be held on November 14. (KC)