Childhood obesity in Dominica alarming, says health minister

The percentage of overweight and obese children and youth in Dominica is increasing at an alarming rate, says Minister of Health Dr Kenneth Darroux.

He said clinical data indicated that “the prevalence of overweight and obese children (0 -59 months) increased from 9 per cent in 2000 to 12 per cent in 2009; and an estimated 24.8 per cent of adolescents (13-15 years) were overweight and 9.1 per cent, obese”.

Dr Darroux said much of the overweight and obesity among children in the Eastern Caribbean nation is directly related to the processed, energy dense, non-nutritious foods and drinks they consume, coupled with physical inactivity at home and at school.

“Some of our children are fed foods and drinks with high sugar and salt contents daily. Some of these so-called snacks can be classified as non-foods, yet our children consume them every day,” he lamented.

The minister pointed out that childhood and adolescence are critical periods in which people establish eating habits and lifestyle behaviours that can persist through adulthood.

Obesity is a risk factor for developing diabetes.

Dr. Darroux pointed out that the International Diabetes Federation warns that diabetes is one of the largest global health emergencies of the 21st century.

“Each year, more and more people are diagnosed with the condition. Further, more children and adolescents are being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. Concern for the disease stems not only from the ill-health caused by the disease itself but also from the associated disabling and life-changing complications such as blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputations and cardio-vascular disease,” he said.

“The cost of treating these complications and the associated human suffering is of grave concern to us at the Ministry of Health and Environment and the Government, by extension.” (Caribbean 360)

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