EDITORIAL: Let's 'Beat Diabetes!'
Tomorrow is World Health Day and the theme for this year is Beat Diabetes. Here in Barbados, diabetes is a serious concern. As one of the Chronic Non-communicable Diseases plaguing this population, it is an issue that affects every Barbadian to some extent. Still, although the numbers are alarming, it is not too late to Beat Diabetes. How?
Everyone knows that when it comes to building, you start from the ground and go up. Furthermore, any Barbadian can tell you that you should “train up a child the way it should grow and it will not depart from it”. Therefore, it is imperative that attention be given to the youth of this country as part of the drive towards achieving a healthier Barbados.
In the past, the Ministries of Health, Education and Sports collaborated to introduce several initiatives aimed at teaching younger Barbadians the principles of living a healthy lifestyle. These included Healthy Fun Days at primary schools that featured all-day Expos, which were incorporated into the syllabus, teaching students how to make the best food choices, the benefits of physical activity and the various types of exercises. Plans were also in place to have the School Meals Department make school meals “more appealing and to improve their nutritional value”.
There was also a move to ensure that vendors who sell outside school premises be educated as to the nutritional value of products for sale, so as to encourage better selections for students. One principal shared the hope that, in addition to embodying the healthy outlook, students would be able to educate their parents on how to achieve healthy lifestyles for themselves.
With this continued emphasis on educating children and implementing measures to create healthier lifestyles among younger citizens, Barbados stands to benefit greatly in the future.
Parents have role to play
While this overall effort should prove advantageous, the reality is that parents do not usually take advice or instruction from their charges. And, for a permanent change in attitude to take hold, students would need reinforcement of what is learned at school, in the home.
As such, parents are hereby being called upon to not only support their children’s healthy lifestyles, but to develop a healthy outlook for the entire family. Ensure first that you are fully aware of the state of your health and take the necessary step towards improving your situation.
Subsequently, parents are urged to prepare meals using fewer or no processed foods where possible, and instead use fresher produce and meats. Adopt new habits like eating fruits as snacks and using more complex carbohydrates like ground provisions instead of pre-packaged simple carbs. For instance, a family could still enjoy french fries if they use actual potatoes tossed in olive oil and baked in the oven. This ensures the quality of the fries and allows you to control the additives as well, like salt.
Each Barbadian family is also encouraged to start a backyard garden that would allow easy access to certain cash crops and herbs. This not only makes certain produce available right when you need it, it can help reduce expenses otherwise incurred if you are forced to buy market price for scarce items.
Therefore, everyone is encourage to reflect on their lifestyle choices tomorrow and make the change to a healthier life. Let tomorrow be the start of a lifelong journey. By doing so, we would definitely be able to Beat Diabetes.