Obesity, overweight on the rise among women in region

Friday, October 12, 2018

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Studies have revealed that women in the Caribbean have higher rates of obesity in terms of Body Mass Index (BMI) compared to men.

“They also have higher rates of abdominal obesity and are likely to be three times more obese than men,” according to Dr Virginia Asin-Oostburg, CARPHA director for surveillance, disease prevention and Control, in observance of World Obesity Day — yesterday.

Being obese places an individual at a high risk for developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases later in life, CARPHA noted.

According to a release from CARPHA, obesity is a serious, chronic disease that can have a negative effect on one's health, noting that in a recent report the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that “obesity and overweight are on the rise throughout the Caribbean and Latin America and are particularly prevalent among women and children”.

CARPHA, meanwhile, said it continues to support its member states and other regional organisations in their efforts to minimise the impact of obesity in the Caribbean.

“Several initiatives are being spearheaded by CARPHA to address overweight and obesity in the region. These include improving food and nutrition surveillance systems, and the implementation of activities associated with its Childhood Obesity Action Plan,” said the release.

Added Dr Oostburg: “We recently unveiled our six-point policy package for healthier food environments during a Caricom (Caribbean Community) event at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). This initiative, which is aligned with the World Health Organization (WHO) targets for NCDs, includes mandatory food labelling, nutritional standards and guidelines for schools, and reduction in the marketing of unhealthy foods.”

Pushing its theme for World Obesity Day — “End Weight Stigma” — CARPHA joined its member states and the rest of the world to raise awareness about this chronic disease, as well as the diseases associated with it.

“The lack of knowledge and awareness of weight stigma can have a negative effect on individuals and lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and suicide, thus undermining overall health,” said the release.

CARPHA, meanwhile, urged governments, community leaders, health care professionals and individuals to work together to create an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle.

“CARPHA encourages persons to follow a healthy eating plan increase their physical activity by exercising daily, even if it's moderately; monitor weight regularly, and, lastly, be consistent. Following these measures would go a long way in reducing the rate of obesity in the Caribbean.“

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