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Tufton says collaboration needed to promote health, wellness in schools

Saturday, August 25, 2018

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MINISTER of Health Dr Christopher Tufton says a collaborative effort is needed from all stakeholders to promote health and wellness in Jamaican schools.

Addressing a Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Parent Sensitisation Session at Montego Bay High School on Thursday, the minister said this is necessary to prevent noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), as the nation's children are becoming more vulnerable at an earlier age.

“Our children are increasingly becoming obese. Frankly speaking, they are not as active as we were in our younger days. They prefer the computer, the telephone, the iPad, the video games — and when they play those things, they eat the snacks from the cupboard [and] drink the sugary drinks. All of that combined create a child who, increasingly, is becoming vulnerable to lifestyle diseases at an earlier age,” he added.

Dr Tufton outlined that according to studies conducted by the ministry, obesity has doubled among Jamaica's children over a seven-year period.

“Earlier this year, the latest study showed that we have seen a 100 per cent increase in terms of obesity among our school population — 100 per cent in boys and about 60 per cent or 70 per cent in girls,” the minister said.

He argued that if the current unhealthy trend continues, the nation's children will be susceptible to diabetes, arthritis, stroke, cancers, and other lifestyle diseases.

The minister said it is this concern why the ministries of health and education have engaged in discussions to find the solution to the issue.

He noted that the ministries are developing a nutrition policy to be implemented in all schools by January 2019, which will guide what is made available on school compounds for children to consume.

In the meanwhile, Dr Tufton said the Jamaica Moves programme will be launched in schools in the upcoming academic year, which will promote greater physical activity among students as well as encourage students to pay more attention to their consumption habits.

The Jamaica Moves programme was initiated by the Ministry of Health in an effort to encourage Jamaicans to participate in more physical activities and be more mindful of nutrition, thereby reducing the risk of developing lifestyle diseases.

The sensitisation session was designed to inform parents, teachers and other stakeholders about the Primary Exit Profile, PATH, Career Advancement Programme, the rural school bus service, no-tuition fee policy, and other related matters for the upcoming school year.

— JIS


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