Port of Spain was the location of a recent meeting of the Caribbean Public Health Agency executive board, after which Health Minister Dr. Fuad Khan gave a press conference. Unlike the United States, where obesity is said to have plateaued in the last 10 years, in the tiny Republic of Trinidad and Tobago the past decade has seen a 30% increase in overall obesity.
Last year, Dr. Khan showed unusually firm leadership by forbidding a pediatric hospital in his island nation from accepting $10,000 from McDonald’s. He voiced suspicion of the link between childhood obesity and the fast food industry, and an antipathy for the clown Ronald McDonald, who may be both the most popular and the most unpopular imaginary person in the world. Khan says:
… [E]very time I look at the fast food industry I think look I’m losing the war.
According to reporter Julien Neaves, the health minister is not so worried about fat itself as a food ingredient, but is very concerned about carbohydrates and especially sugars. And alcohol.
The population of Trinidad and Tobago is South Asian (from India), African, and plenty of miscellaneous. Women and children have been especially affected. Ten years ago, their obesity rate was around 25% and now it has risen to about 50% — in other words, more than half. This would be alarming in any environment, but it is especially so in the place where the dance called the limbo originated. (If the reason is not clear, please see the video clip.)
Trinidad and Tobago doesn’t have hurricanes, and does have oil, and it has become prosperous enough to no longer be considered a developing country. Still, the tourist trade is important and investors hope it will become more so. Khan’s speech seemed to carry a hidden implication that too many overweight women populating the festival in skimpy outfits could be detrimental to the national economy.
In Spain, the University of Granada has confirmed a couple of things that have been found by other researchers: the importance of eating meals prepared at home by a conscientious parent, and the fact that kids with sedentary lifestyles are more likely to measure high on the BMI scale and eventually become obese.
The study took place right in Granada, looking at over 700 schoolkids from nine to 17 years of age. Like so many other articles, this one gives helpful suggestions for parents who want to avoid obesity, like starting with one vegetable and working up from there.
Surely, it ought to be possible to find one vegetable a child will believe is palatable. Also, it’s a good idea for a parent to take some time on the weekend to map out the food plan for the rest of the week, and make sure the home is stocked with healthy alternatives to junk food that kids and grownups can all enjoy.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Obesity on the rise,” TrinidadExpress.com, 05/06/12
Source: “New Study Reconfirms Links Between Diet and Childhood Obesity,” DietsInReview.com, 03/06/12
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