Obesity on the Rise Among Caribbean Women

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday October 12, 2018 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is concerned about the number of women in the region who are either overweight or obese.

“Studies have revealed that women in the Caribbean have higher rates of obesity in terms of Body Mass Index (BMI) compared to men.  They also have higher rates of abdominal obesity and are likely to be 3 times more obese than men,” said Dr. Virginia Asin-Oostburg, CARPHA Director for Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control in observance of World Obesity Day yesterday.

In a recent report, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that “obesity and overweight are on the rise throughout the Caribbean and Latin America and are particularly prevalent among women and children.”

Realising that a whole of society approach is necessary to reduce the burden of obesity and diet-related NCDs, CARPHA says it continues to support its member states and other regional organizations in their efforts to minimize the impact of obesity in the Caribbean.

Several initiatives are being spearheaded by CARPHA to address overweight and obesity in the region. These include improving food and nutrition surveillance systems, and the implementation of activities associated with its Childhood Obesity Action Plan.

“We recently unveiled our 6-point policy package for healthier food environments during a CARICOM event at the United Nations High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). This initiative, which is aligned with the World Health Organization (WHO) targets for NCDs, includes mandatory food labelling, nutritional standards and guidelines for schools, and reduction in the marketing of unhealthy foods,” Dr Oostburg stated.

The theme for World Obesity Day 2018 was “End Weight Stigma”.  Yesterday, CARPHA joined its member states and the rest of the world to raise awareness about this chronic disease, and the diseases associated with it.

Noting that the lack of knowledge and awareness of weight stigma can have a negative effect on individuals and lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and suicide, thus undermining overall health, CARPHA urged governments, community leaders, healthcare professionals and individuals to work together to create an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle.

The health agency also encouraged people to follow a healthy eating plan, increase their physical activity by exercising daily, even if it’s moderately, monitor weight regularly and lastly, be consistent, contending that following these measures would go a long way in reducing the rate of obesity in the Caribbean.

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