A question for the health authorities

Monday, August 27, 2018

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Dear Editor,

I had reason to be on the road this past weekend, and facing the “back-to-school” throng couldn't be helped. As I negotiated the busy thoroughfares and navigated the equally busy plazas I saw something that brought to mind a story I had read in the papers about two years prior.

The story spoke to some large percentage of Jamaican women being overweight, something like 60 per cent from what I recalled. The catalyst was a female walking ahead of me. She appeared to be a little over five feet tall and probably in the region of 180 lbs. Based on my casual observations throughout the rest of the day, I concluded that perhaps the papers had it wrong, and that the percentage might really be higher.

When I got home I managed to retrieve the story online and realised it was I who had gotten it wrong on two counts. As it turns out, the story was not a year old but was published from way back in March 2014. Also, the percentage quoted was actually 80 per cent, not 60 as I had first thought.

Acting chief medical officer in the Ministry of Health at the time, Dr Kevin Harvey, along with other officials of the health ministry, were appearing before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and this was a part of the information being presented.

Dr Harvey, in the story, was reported to have said that they would soon be coming out with a revised food-based dietary guideline featuring a plate showing what proportions of food should be eaten. They would also be examining labelling standards for fast foods and the food industry in general, as it related to labelling for calorie counts, sugar, fat, and salt contents.

Having said all of that, I have a question for the powers that be. Has anything actually been done along the lines of what Dr Harvey suggested 4 years ago, or was all that merely a sound bite? No pun intended. If anything has happened, it must be top secret because I haven't seen or heard anything to suggest otherwise.

Robert Mitchell,

Christiana PO



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