$1.3m. towards child obesity fight

Dr. Carlisle Goddard
Dr. Carlisle Goddard

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)††

3 Responses to $1.3m. towards child obesity fight

  1. Tony Webster February 6, 2013 at 6:04 am

    Congratulations to the Lions Club. It’s amazing that we say we are in “hard economic times”, yet men, women, and children waddle around with oodles of “food reserves”…candidates for all manner of NCD’s that will make a misery of their quality-of-life life- in later years, and cost them, and the country, to spend millions that are desperately neeeded for national development and productivity. We must give the Lions our fullest support. I hope that the kids, when they are “fully switched on” with good info, will go home….and educate their families!

    Thanks be to Dr. Goddard and his colleagues: more action; less lotta long talk.

  2. Asha February 6, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Well done to the Lion’s Club. If you need any assistance let me know. I’m a personal trainer and am willing to lend a hand. I’ve been saying this for ages. It’s fine to target the adults but really and truly it’s too hard to change some of them now. You have to start with the children. Or not we’ll be repeating this endless cycle. Health Science class should be dedicated to this stuff and every school should have a little kitchen garden so children can at least learn about the food and maybe take home some herbs now and again for the family to use.

    We talk about NCDs killing the country yet we still let these fast food chains set up all around the place. Only in Barbados. But our health care service will implode at some point. It is only so long that the healthy population can support the sick ones, especially as more and more people suffer from these types of diseases themselves.

    I wish the best for this programme and that the adults as well fully embrace the necessary changes.

  3. Stephen Aymes February 7, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Hi Asha. I am a member of the Bridgetown Lions club. Please connect with me on Facebook. We’d be very interested in taking you up on your offer of assistance.


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