PE at schools ‘vital in NCD fight’

PHYSICAL EDUCATION should be mandatory until a child leaves secondary school in Barbados. That is the view of cardiologist Dr Raymond Massay, who also called for the taxing of heavily sugared products. He said the greatest task for physicians was to convince parents to teach their children the importance of eating properly. “We have to go right back into the schools and get the children to be physically active. The Minister of Education has an extremely important role to play,” Massay said.
“Physical education should be mandatory and not only in first form but right through to sixth form at every level.” Regarding school canteens and local restaurants, Massay said he believed the menus should be made healthier. He cited the American hamburger chain, McDonald’s, and its introduction of healthier alternatives. However, the physician admitted poverty was associated with the availability of cheap food, and that locally, unhealthy food was indeed cheaper than healthier alternatives. Referencing the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s own canteen, he said he had observed people ordering the macaroni pie and lamb stew gravy often, as opposed to the salads and low calorie foods. The specialist said a paradigm shift was necessary across Barbados when it came to diet and exercise, which would have a direct correlation to a reduction in the instances of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes and hypertension. Massay also said taxing products with heavy sugar content would be a way to help reduce the prevalence of diabetes in society. (MR)

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