Youth want better nutrition
It’s Nutrition Month and this year the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) wants to highlight the thoughts of Jamaican young people as it relates to their nutrition status, with some interventions designed to improve their health outcome.
Since 2021, JYAN has partnered with UNICEF and U-Report Jamaica to conduct three U-Report polls.
In July 2021, JYAN wanted to find out about the nutritional behaviours of Jamaican youth. These were some findings:
74 per cent of young people reported looking for healthy options when purchasing food and drink.
70 per cent of young people are aware of and/or read the nutritional facts on the labels of drinks and snacks they eat.
94 per cent of young people believe there should be warning labels such as HIGH IN FATS or HIGH IN SUGARS on the front of food items.
87 per cent of young people believe that if the food items had front-of-package warning labels, it would influence their food choices.
88 per cent of young people support government restrictions on excessively sugar-sweetened beverages and other unhealthy food items sold in schools.
In September 2022, we asked young people about their thoughts on the School Nutrition Policy Green Paper. Our results showed overwhelming support for the policy and the issues it aims to address.
95 per cent of young people believe that proper nutrition in schools should be a priority for the government.
80 per cent of young people support a policy that bans unhealthy food and drinks in schools.
92 per cent of young people support a policy that ensures physical activity for all students.
98 per cent of young people support a policy that ensures students learn about nutrition at school and how to prepare healthy meals.
95 per cent of young people believe that the government should provide all schools with nutrition guidelines for school meals and snacks.
In November 2022, we asked young people about the Advertising of Unhealthy Foods. Our findings were:
42 per cent of young people reported seeing unhealthy food and beverage products advertised several times daily.
31 per cent of young people reported seeing unhealthy food and beverage products advertised the most on social media/online.
77 per cent of young people reported that they would support policies or laws that restrict the advertising of unhealthy food and beverage products to children.
40 per cent of young people said the advertising of unhealthy products should be most regulated in schools.
86 per cent of young people indicated that products high in fats, salt, and sugar should NOT be advertised to children.
Young people have spoken, and it’s the government’s turn to listen. We want a National School Nutrition Policy. We want front-of-package warning labels. We want manufacturers to be regulated in their attempts to advertise and market unhealthy food to children.
We want to live longer, healthier, more fulfilling lives
This article was contributed by the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network