In a few more days, Barbados will celebrate its 51st anniversary of Independence and then we will be into the Christmas season. A word of caution therefore needs to be issued well in advance though, as it is a well-known fact that some Barbadians use this time of year to consume too many of the wrong foods, in very large quantities, which is contributing to the rise in chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs).
Reports are that chronic non-communicable diseases now account for 80 per cent of total deaths in Barbados. Additionally, it is said that one-quarter of adult Barbadians have a chronic non-communicable disease and this statistic is expected to rise to one-third, by 2030. It is said that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of illness and death in Barbados and this has been consistently so for the last 15 to 20 years. The Barbados National Registry (BNR) for Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (CNCDs) is currently the platform from which information on the incidence of cardiovascular disease is documented and analysed and so, there is no need to argue with the information put out in the public domain. What we all need to do is to take the information and make it useful to us. Make a determination not to add to the negative statistics.
Now again, nobody may want to hear about eating responsibly for Independence or Christmas for that matter. However, given the current health profile of Barbadians, emphasis must always be placed on the promotion of healthy lifestyles, rather than the treatment of disease, with a view to decreasing risk factors for chronic diseases.
The local Health Ministry has been doing its part to get the right messages out and as such, has embarked on a number of promotional efforts, which strive to send the message that better nutrition and frequent physical activity is key, in reducing the likelihood of falling ill with a chronic non-communicable disease. We all know however, that such messages tend to fall on deaf ears at times, as Barbadians continue to enjoy fast foods, engage in tobacco consumption and consume plenty of alcohol. With the Christmas season right around the corner, most people will be throwing caution to the wind. For those who already have a chronic disease such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and even chronic respiratory disease, you must be ever conscious of the fact that high blood pressure, obesity, high blood sugar and high blood cholesterol levels, are not gifts you would want for Christmas or even after Christmas.
As such, Barbadians need to consume everything they eat and drink in moderation. The message must be “Eat and Drink Responsibly”. Speaking of drinking, with word being given that Breathalyser testing will be coming to our shores, Barbadians need to adopt the concept of having a designated driver, if they know they will be consuming alcohol at various events, so they can ensure that they have a safe ride home. Whilst we are a world class destination known for our rum, we must again see citizens drinking responsibly and working to ensure that road fatalities and accidents are reduced, on account of driving under the influence.
Whatever we do this Independence time and the subsequent Christmas period, let us do it responsibly and in moderation.