PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Tuesday July 25, 2017 – Soft drinks and other sugary beverages will not be on the menu when the new school term opens in Trinidad and Tobago in September.
According to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, that’s when a ban will take effect at schools across the country, as part of a mission to curb the epidemic of non-communicable diseases among children.
“We have to recognize that we have a crisis on our hands when it comes to juvenile diabetes and childhood obesity. One of the drivers of that is an unhealthy lifestyle,” he said.
Deyalsingh told reporters on the sidelines of a one-week camp hosted by the Diabetes Association of T&T that an intensive programme was underway to convert schools into healthy zones.
“An awareness campaign will be part of the non-communicable diseases (NCD) programme we are rolling out. It has started already; we have already conducted the Body Mass Index (BMI) study of over 5,000 students which started last year and we have banned the sale of sugary drinks in schools….A part of the non-communicable diseases programme is to encourage children to lead a healthier lifestyle, which includes what they drink, what they eat and how they exercise or don’t exercise,” he explained.
The minister said healthier options are to be introduced in schools, and changes will be coming to the free school meals menu.
Sodas are not the only beverages being targeted. Deyalsingh said energy drinks will also be banned and the ministry would soon launch a public education programme to show the dangers of consuming those drinks.
“We have to recognize that too many of our young people are drinking too many of these energy drinks which are not good for them, so we are also banning that from school cafeterias, especially for our secondary school children,” he said.