Death by food

“People are knowingly eating themselves to death, literally, causing huge challenges and tragedies for their families, bankrupting both families and government,” Sir Henry Fraser declared last night.

The retired Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus said this Barbadian gorging habit has, over the years, developed into a scourge.

“The fundamental problem facing us is the massive epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases,” he said while delivering a lecture on health care in Barbados, in the UWI lecture theatre named after him.

Sir Henry said Barbadians have now “achieved the distinction of [having] some of the highest figures in the world for obesity and chronic diseases”.

“Two thirds of women are overweight or obese . . . . One third of men are overweight or obese,” he said. “Men remain active and slim far longer than women, who are fatter at a younger and younger age.”

The Professor said that, as a consequence, “20 per cent of all adults have high blood pressure and half of those are over 45. By age 60, it’s 60 per cent. And one in five adults over 45 has diabetes, all heading for strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure”.

Sir Henry told the almost full lecture theatre that these “frightening” figures were compounded by the equally frightening cost of resulting medical care, equating to two-thirds of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s budget and two-thirds of the Barbados Drug Service budget.

“Dialysis for kidney failure, due to the combination of diabetes and hypertension, costs more than $35 000 per patient, per year. We dialyze over 200 patients – that’s $8 million a year, the health care costs of 6 000 other patients.”

He said the huge economic impact of chronic disease was felt not just in the country’s budget, “but on individuals and families, sometimes destroying families who just can’t cope with a hugely obese patient with an amputation or a stroke”.

Following his summation of Barbados’ enormous burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) brought on by unhealthy lifestyles, Sir Henry recalled late prime minister David Thompson warning eight years ago that “if left to chance, all the gains achieved in the Caribbean during the march from poverty to relative affluence since Independence can be wiped out by the NCDs”.

The doctor said Barbadians must continue striving for good health for as many as possible, through prevention.

He then outlined his five predictors of good health: regular physical activity, healthy eating, avoidance of smoking, avoidance of alcohol abuse, and avoidance of stress.

Although noting that genetic factors could not be avoided, he added: “We must work with what we’re given.”

Another health predictor identified by Sir Henry was “clean, safe, decent housing with a water supply”, which he said was an absolute necessity.

15 Responses to Death by food

  1. Alex Alleyne November 10, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Death begins in the colon.

  2. Tony Webster November 10, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Sir Henry, our “horses” have long departed the stable, leaving us with monumental problems of obesity and attendant serious health issues of the C.N.C.D. kind, amongst our over-35 cohorts. Even our teenagers, are perhaps beyond reach….unless you can make “wellness and good looks” …very sexy ….AND viral. Sports used to be a saving grace for our youth, , but today, teenage physical activity is mostly restricted to the thumbs on the smart-phone.
    I suggest we place great emphasis on our youngsters in primary school…and even there, we shall be challenged, as our teachers would send them home, each and every afternoon…to more cheese-and macaroni pie, washed down with sugary liquids.

    Yes, our problem has been “up-sized”.

  3. allison archer November 10, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    one rarely can change a person by giving information- do this and not do that does not work anymore not with this generation just look around as years there was tons of education being fed to man but still to no avail and if change comes in a specific area they just gravitate to another vice

    low self esteem, pressure, oppression, depression, loss of hope and vision of their lives etc.. man drown their sorrows in sex, alcohol, drugs. gossip, slander and yes some gluttony, these are the main culprits

    man no longer see the need for change in their lives matter of fact Barbadians hate change and so long as the vice takes the pain away and gives pleasure one will continue to practise this path of destruction

    man’s mind is depraved without God and man will always seek to worship some idol (e.g.. food) to replace worshipping the Creator, the mind needs to be renewed it cannot be done with information but with revelation from the Source of life

    my prayer is that man will acknowledge their wrong in disobeying Jesus’ commandments and turn from their wrong and begin to call upon the name of the Lord that they be made whole and complete in Him (2 chronicles 7:14)

  4. Bonita Weekes
    Bonita Weekes November 10, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    How can you tell me that I am eating my self to death? I have to buy what I can afford to buy. Do you know that some households can only get 2 meals a day? Every week your money buys less, there is suppose to be a glut of pumpkin yet it is no cheaper. A 15 Dollar chicken is the size of a sparrow, check how much food has gone up in the last 3 months.Many women take home under 300 dollars a week, it is hard out there Sir Henry .I have to do more than buy food. Stress is what is killing a lot of our people, when I have wait from 12 noon to minutes to 3 for a bus, the when I get home I have no water and my garbage is piled up that is going to affect me.Only who wears th shoe knows the pinch. You people talk as though it’s only now high BP and diabetes has come about , it is that we are being diagnosed quicker.As a child people were having passover as it was then called we now as a stroke.

    • Maria Leclair Dasilva
      Maria Leclair Dasilva November 10, 2016 at 3:31 pm

      I eat healthy and it is way cheaper than buying junk food. Junk food is not cheap nor is it filling so we have to eat more of it therefore it shouldn’t be cheaper. The thought of coming home to no water and a garbage pile would drive me insane. I don’t understand how citizens can put up with this being they are use to having running water for many years. It’s sad actually to see how wrecked everything has become.

    • Bonita Weekes
      Bonita Weekes November 10, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      Maria, in 1966 my parents had water in their house, now in 2016 I have to go to a standpipe on wheels . Right now my water is off but the minister says that he can not make the rain fall. It looks like it’s going to rain so just maybe he WILL make sure that I get some water.

  5. Bonita Weekes
    Bonita Weekes November 10, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    There are people who can scarcely afford one good meal a day, so it’s easy for others to talk. You always talk about food, what about the alcohol and drugs? The money spent on those should be going in to the house to eat better.I spent 7 days in hospital, I was treated okay but food was not, I got macaroni and bill fish , where was the vegetables? And getting food that I should not have been getting. The health minister talks about food too and they cannot get it right?

  6. BoboTheClown November 10, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Barbadians have developed ,the “no need to cook at home any longer”because at every other corner there is some fast food outlet .This feeding frenzy that has engrossed both our youth and elders has not only resulted in many a health problem for most ,but ultimate death on too many occasions.There seem to be the growing epidemic of people of all ages dropping dead on the streets of Barbados. These deaths are not, as most would have you believe accidental. Most, if not all are caused by life styles, eating habits,tasty snacks , sugar laced drinks, lack of exercise and eating late at night and lying down to sleep moments later.
    It is almost sickening to see parents that should no better at fast food outlets with children in tow with a large helping of french fries ,a soda, and any other item that the child demand to have ,like a chocolate bar.Can we expect to have healthy young people when parents believe that if they can give the child the biggest burger and juicy they are somehow being a great parent?

  7. Winslow Brome November 10, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    I see young pregnant females consuming soda,corn curls and unhealthy snacks.Lunch on most days are a Coke ,52g/bottle and white bread .We need to stop this but it starts with our children because the horse is already out of the stable!!!!!

  8. Heather Thompson November 10, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Little England! More like little America!

  9. Alex Alleyne November 10, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Table tennis in Schools will be an excellent place to start.

  10. Sheron Inniss November 10, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Show me who doing the importing? Nothing will change; just a whole lot of long talk.

  11. Bonita Weekes
    Bonita Weekes November 10, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    I am all for eating healthy but we also have to be realistic . To say that the bajan diet is full of carbohydrates you certainly do not know our history, I have also lived in another island we have the same history. What did the slave masters feed our fore parents.? I grew up at a time when Sunday was the only day most black people could eat a piece of meat. So what would they eat during the week? Rice , potatoes , yams, breadfruit. I grew up at a shop so I have a good idea of how people ate.Protien in week was a piece of salt fish if you could by it, pilchards or some other categories meat. We eat more vegetable now than then for sure. Life styles have changed , my mother was home and I was home from school by 3.30.My granddaughter gets home some days after 7 then she has dinner and is in bed in 2 hrs. Would it not be better to try helping each rather than jus talking.

  12. Alex Alleyne November 10, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    It sad when a person will go in a polyclinic and sit for 5 hours to get “free health care” , then go to a rum shop and drop a cool $60.00 on booze they call “big-mout-drinks”.

  13. Alex Alleyne November 10, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    Stay tuned, soon they will be spending more on “Recreational weed”. And sill going for “free health care”.


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