The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados introduced the Childhood Obesity Prevention (COP) Programme in 2018, to address the alarming rates of childhood obesity in Barbados. The programme focuses on developing mass media campaigns to increase awareness of the health risks connected to consuming sugary drinks regularly. COP also promotes policy change which can help to secure sustainable changes regarding Childhood obesity.
The decreasing physical activity levels of children paired with their high exposure to sugary beverages in schools, where they spend the most time, created a grim future for Barbados. Data in recent years supported the urgent need for the programme.
non-communicable disease(NCD) such as, cardiovascular disease and diabetes in adulthood.
Now, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic, where persons with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension are at greater risk, the need for intervention is vital. The newly launched “Act Now” campaign, in August 2020, targets the implementation of a comprehensive school nutrition policy to restrict unhealthy foods and beverages in schools.
The Childhood Obesity Prevention Programme is a project of the Heart & Stroke Foundation. The programme has been operational since 2018 and is focused on advocating for policy that restricts the sale and marketing of sugar sweetened beverages in school environments.
According to the World Health Organisation, “Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. The problem is global and is steadily affecting many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. The prevalence has increased at an alarming rate. Globally, in 2016 the number of overweight children under the age of five, was estimated to be over 41 million.”
Current statistics show that a third of Caribbean children are obese or overweight and 31% of children in Barbados are obese or overweight. This is a statistic that our region and our nation cannot afford.
The World Health Organisation advocates for a suite of policies to fight Childhood Obesity across nations.
The suite of policies which COPP is advocating for are:
• Taxation on Unhealthy Food
• Mandatory Front of Package Nutrition Labelling
• Enacting Legislation related to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes
• Banning the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children
• Banning the sale of marketing of foods in schools
• Mandatory physical activity in schools
• Monitoring policy implementation