Students at the Newtown Primary School

Obesity among the Dominican population has caught the attention of the Dominica Diabetes Association (DOMDA).

The organization says it is very alarmed at the rising rate of body mass  among children, youth and the working population.

And so, members of the public are being encouraged to adopt habits that promote good health.

The DOMDA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Health Promotion Unit, has launched a new initiative with primary schools in Dominica, dubbed “Adopt Healthy Habits”  to assist in that regard.

This new campaign was launched at the New Town Primary School on Tuesday with the objectives of achieving a reduction in obesity across all population groups, to increase awareness of the link between consumption of sugars, obesity and non-communicable diseases especially diabetes and to encourage increased consumption of fruits and water.

Marvlyn Birmingham, DOMDA president (l)

 “The ‘Adopt Healthy Habits’ follows on the activities implemented in observance of World Diabetes Day for 2018,” President of the DOMDA, Marvlyn Birmingham, said while addressing the ceremony. “So this Adopt Healthy Habits is a call to action…we are calling on all man, woman and child to adopt habits that promote good health.”

Birmingham said that the DOMDA is also concerned that non-communicable diseases are the main causes of ill health and death among the population.

“The Association is calling on every family, every man, woman and child, every Wednesday put down the sodas, put down the sweetened juices and drink water,” she announced. “We call that our ‘Water Wednesday’ your body will be happy for that, your body will be healthy for that.”

DOMDA is also encouraging members of the public to make Fridays their fruit day and to snack on local fruits. on that day.

Birmingham further stated that in 2009, the Global Health Survey indicated that 10 percent of adolescent age 13 to 15 years were overweight while 26.3 percent were at risk of becoming overweight.

“Of significance, 17.8 percent of those surveyed ate vegetables one or more times per day during the past 30 years while 15 percent ate from fast food restaurants and 57.1 percent drank carbonated drinks,” she stated.

“Clinical Data also revealed that Obesity among children age 0 to 5 years is increasing with a prevalent rate of 9 percent, that was in 2013 and 12 percent in 2011,” Birmingham lamented. “That is again very troubling,” and we need to take steps to tend that rising trend.”

Birmingham, physiotherapist by profession, identified the consumption of energy dense foods and insufficient physical activities as major factors influencing obesity in Dominica.

She pointed out that overweight and obese children are at higher risk of developing serious health problems including type 2 diabetes – which is diabetes of older people, high blood pressure, asthma and other respiratory problems.

“They are also at risk of developing sleep disorders and liver disease,” Birmingham said. “They also suffer from psychological effects such as low self-esteem, depression and social isolation.”

She added, “Very important, childhood obesity – if you are too big as a child – also increases the risk of obesity, non-communicable disease and premature death and disability in adulthood.”

Citing the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that reducing the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages would also reduce the risk of childhood overweight and obesity, Birmingham stated that such advice is just as applicable to adults.