Joy Adamson, Chief Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training.
Focus on reducing childhood obesity
The Ministry of Education is heartened that the Ministry of Health and
Wellness, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation
(PAHO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), is developing a
National School Nutrition Policy for Barbados.
Joy Adamson, Chief Education Officer with the Ministry of Education,
Technological and Vocational Training, acknowledged the above as she
delivered remarks yesterday during the virtual Opening Ceremony for
the Stakeholders Consultation for the Development of a School
Nutrition Policy for Barbados, hosted by the PAHO/WHO Office for
Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
“My Ministry is pleased to be involved in this partnership, as we too
continue to be very concerned about our children’s dietary habits and
even more disturbed about the number of school-aged children
encountering non-communicable diseases in Barbados. I was at PAHO when
we first started such discussions in 2015, and five years on we are
hoping that we will have a final document that we will be able to
share with our schools and our students,” she said.
“It is now a well-known fact that a third of all Caribbean children
are obese or overweight. I can safely say that all of us today are
aware that to address this problem, we must therefore change our
children’s dietary habits. To do this, we the adults must change what
we provide for them to eat. We the adults must educate ourselves so
that we can educate them. We the adults must work with manufacturers
and suppliers to reduce the salt and sugar in prepared food and
beverages,” she further commented.
Adamson noted that with some students returning to school recently in
the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare for the upcoming Common
Entrance Exam, based on interactions with some parents, the need for a
nutrition policy has become even more evident.
“Now over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had some interaction with
parents as we prepare the Class 4 students for their return back to
school, and the main thing that a lot of parents were saying is that
they don’t think their children could fit into their uniforms anymore.
Now the students would have been home since March 18th. That is 12
weeks. What were they eating? What were they snacking on? Who was
providing it for them?” Adamson asked.
As such, she noted that educational institutions must not only provide
knowledge to the island’s children, but also influence their attitudes
and behaviours, to positively promote and support healthy eating
“It is hoped that this policy will address all facets of school life,
whilst equipping students with the requisite knowledge and skills to
make better decisions regarding their physical and dietary health” she
indicated, even as she pledged the Ministry’s support in the fight
against childhood obesity.