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Barbados: HCC placing the spotlight on childhood obesity

“Fat kids are not cute.”

According to Dr. Kenneth Connell, Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology at the UWI, Cave Hill Campus and President of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados, this is the message that needs to be driven home to persons in Barbados and across the region, who are holding on to such a myth, given cultural expectations.

Yesterday, the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) hosted a Regional Media Sensitisation session at the Distance Learning Centre at the UWI, Cave Hill Campus.

During that session, the (HCC), represented by Francine Charles, Communications and Advocacy Officer – Childhood Obesity Prevention (COP), placed special emphasis on the growing challenge of childhood obesity facing the Caribbean and its link to non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, which are now responsible for six out of every ten deaths in the region.

Dr. Connell, who served as one of the panel members and who shared details on the HCC’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Campaign and its public call to action, stressed the need to break a number of cultural myths that perpetuate the problem of childhood obesity.

“That’s something as a region that we have to drive home, the cultural thing of fat kids. We’ve always focused on fat adults, but fat kids are also not cute and we should then start the conversation of saying what are the things that cause fat kids, the unhealthy meals, the portion sizes, the institution of certain diets as opposed to breast milk at an early stage,” Dr. Connell remarked.

“So first we have to identify NCDs (non-communicable diseases), the risks to us as a society and the trajectory that we are on; secondly the link between NCDs and childhood obesity; and thirdly, fat isn’t cute in childhood or at any other time and we need to implement measures to address it,” he stressed.

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