Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Facts you need to know | Obesity prevention and you

Published:Wednesday | September 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Nearly nine out of ten (87 per cent) of Jamaicans agree that sugary drinks are a major contributor to obesity in Jamaica.

A new public opinion survey conducted for the Heart Foundation of Jamaica and Vital Strategies by Hope Caribbean, found that Jamaicans are concerned about chronic diseases, particularly diabetes and childhood obesity.

The study was conducted in two survey waves, a baseline survey prior to the 'Are You Drinking Yourself Sick' mass media campaign launch and the other immediately after its conclusion. The surveys measured changes in public knowledge, attitudes, policy support and behaviours over time.

According to the World Health Organization, 78 per cent of all deaths (nearly four in five) in Jamaica are caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Recent findings from the Global School Health Survey (2017) show that obesity is increasing for both boys and girls (13-15), almost doubling for boys.

KEY FINDINGS OF SURVEY:

 

INCREASING, STRONG PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR GOVERNMENT ACTION ON OBESITY

 

- Eighty-three per cent of the respondents strongly support policies on the provision of healthy food and beverages in schools. Over three-quarters (78 per cent) of respondents support prohibiting the sale of unhealthy food and drinks in schools.

- Seventy-one per cent of Jamaicans support the imposition of a tax on sugary drinks, compared to 64 per cent in the baseline survey.

- Eight in ten persons (81 per cent) also agree that the tax revenue should be spent on programmes to reduce obesity, especially among children.

- Ninety-one per cent of respondents agree that there should be clear warning labels on the front of food and beverage packages to warn consumers when products are high in sugar, salt or fats.

 

OBESITY-RELATED DISEASES SUCH AS HYPERTENSION AND DIABETES AND CANCER ARE THE TOP HEALTH CONCERNS FOR JAMAICANS

 

- Fifty-two per cent of adults over the past three months have had thoughts about the health harms of consuming sugary drinks.

- Approximately two-thirds (67 per cent) are concerned about the ill effects on their health and 86 per cent of the persons intend to reduce consumption.

 

JAMAICANS ARE INCREASINGLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE HARMS OF SUGARY DRINKS

 

- Nearly nine out of ten (87 per cent) Jamaicans agree that sugary drinks are a major contributor to obesity in Jamaica.

- Approximately eight out of ten (78 per cent) respondents are concerned about the effects of sugary drinks on their children's health, and nine out of ten (88 per cent) parents also indicate an intention to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks among the children.

 

PARENTS WORRIED ABOUT CHILDREN'S ACCESS TO UNHEALTHY FOOD AND DRINKS IN SCHOOLS

 

- Seven out of ten (69 per cent in the post campaign vs 54 per cent in the baseline) people, who in the past three months were exposed to the campaign, attributed negative health impact to sugary drinks consumption. This was also reflected in their choices, as significantly more respondents reported that they now drink less sugary drinks (68 per cent) as compared to their consumption three months ago.

- The study depicted that children had a higher access to sugary drinks at school as compared to homes or other places outside the home. Over half (54 per cent) of the respondents agreed that children had most of these drinks at school.

yourhealth@gleanerjm.com