Childhood obesity growing at alarming rate, says Dominica Health Minister

Minister of Health Dr. Kenneth Darroux

Calls surge of processed food and drinks a major factor

Minister of Health Dr Kenneth Darroux says childhood obesity is growing at an alarming rate among the younger generation, according to a newly released report.

Citing data from the report, Minister Darroux noted that “the prevalence of overweight and obese children (0 -59 months) increased from 9 percent in 2000 to 12 percent in 2009; and an estimated 24.8 per cent of adolescents (13-15 years) were overweight and 9.1 per cent, obese.”

Dr Darroux attributes the growing rate of obesity among Dominica’s children to the surge of processed food and drinks, combined with more sedentary lifestyles.

“Some of our children are fed foods and drinks with high sugar and salt contents daily. Some of these so-called snacks can be classified as non-foods, yet our children consume them every day,” said Dr. Darroux.

The rise in obesity rates among children is of particular concern and a major priority of the Health Ministry, said Dr. Darroux, because of the toll it takes on the healthy system in treating conditions stemming from clinical obesity, such as diabetes and heart disease.

“The cost of treating these complications and the associated human suffering is of grave concern to us at the Ministry of Health and Environment and the Government, by extension.”

He also said that children’s diet and lifestyle contribute greatly to the issue.

“It can be argued that much of the overweight and obesity among our children is directly related to the processed energy-dense, non-nutritious food and drinks that they consume, coupled with physical inactivity at home and in the school environment,” he explained.

“Some of our children are daily fed food and drinks of high sugar and salt contents—some of these so-called snacks can be classified as non-foods; yet, our children consume them every day. Meanwhile, physical inactivity is encouraged, with such energy-saving machines like motor vehicles, and passive entertainment machines, as computers, video games, and television.”

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