Saint Lucia’s Six-Percenters of Obese Children!
The World Health Organization (WHO), this week, warned about the alarming rate of childhood obesity, especially for those under five. Globally, 37million children under five have been classed as overweight, four million more than at the turn of the century.
Among Caribbean nations, only Trinidad and Tobago is in the top ten, ranking at number eight with an obesity rate of 13.9% among children under 5 years.
The list which comprises 198 nations, finds Saint Lucia ranking at 75, with 6% of children under five being pronounced as obese.
Libya tops the ranking in overweight children under 5 with a rate of 28.7%, followed by Australia with 21.8%, Tunisia with 19%, Egypt with 18.8%, Papua New Guinea with 16%, Greece with 14.6% – as well as Paraguay.
The countries with the least obesity among children under 5 are Myanmar (formerly Burma), with a percentage of 0.8%, Sri Lanka and East Timor with 1.3%, Madagascar with 1.5%, Yemen and Nepal with 1.7%, Gambia with 1.8%, Ghana with 1.9% and finally Burkina Faso and Kiribati with 2%.
Britain ranks 22nd, while the US ranks 52nd.
In Saint Lucia, over the years many studies have been done on childhood obesity, which are seen as major risk factors in adulthood, including cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke, as well as type 2 diabetes, gall bladder disease, and some cancers.
Research has shown that obese children are at a significantly greater risk for obesity in adulthood.
These issues, coupled with a high rate of diabetes, recently moved the Ministry of Education to address the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages in schools. The ban on such items, which would have come into effect in January 2023, was suspended pending further consultation.
When it was initially announced, the intended ban was welcomed by local health officials, who saw this as addressing obesity in children as well as the adverse effects of excessive sugar consumption on health.
Saint Lucia has been recorded as having one of the highest rates of diabetes in the region. Non-communicable diseases, stroke, ischemic heart disease and diabetes are listed as the top three causes of death. Reducing childhood obesity, as well as promoting healthier lifestyles health officials say, can lead to a reduction in these non-communicable diseases later on.