How to avoid a killer diet

| September 25, 2013
Clive Caines CaribDirect

Clive Caines Cultural Contributor

Did you know that the second Saturday in September is Caribbean Wellness Day? If your answer is no then I will not be too smug as I only know about Wellness day because I happen to be looking at a CARPHA, Caribbean Public Health Agency, website while doing some research.

In explaining why they promote a Wellness day CARPHA offer some disturbing facts about current Caribbean dietary habits. Though I was prompted to start this column because of a concern about modern attitudes towards cooking and eating I was still shocked by the facts in CARPHA’s explanation.

I recommend everyone read the article and, more importantly, take action if you have the type of diet being described by CAPHA, so here’s their explanation of Wellness Day in full:

“ Caribbean Wellness Day is celebrated by CARICOM countries on the second Saturday in September, as part of a unified response to promote health and prevent and control the epidemic of Non-Communicable Diseases or NCDs.

As Executive Director of the newly established Caribbean Public Health Agency – CARPHA, I’m pleased to celebrate this Wellness Revolution with the families of our 24 CARPHA Member countries.

This occasion is all the more satisfying because we only recently completed our long term planning, in which 21 countries, the CARICOM Secretariat and the Pan American Health Organization participated.

In keeping with the Wellness Day theme for 2013 – Safeguarding the health of our youth for a brighter future, we will be promoting healthy weights to help prevent and control the epidemic of childhood obesity within the Region.

Dr James Hospedales. Photo courtesy

Dr James Hospedales. Photo courtesy

I must tell you that studies presented at the CARPHA Scientific Conference in May of this year, pointed to Caribbean countries as having some of the highest rates of obesity in children in the world.  In fact, 1 in 3 and 1 in 5 of our adolescents are either overweight or obese.  This is mainly due to poor dietary intake and low levels of physical activity.

Particularly worrying are the low levels of consumption of fruits and vegetables and high levels of consumption of carbonated beverages in our schools.

This is not only a matter of individual choice, but a matter of environments that promote obesity, for example the easy availability of high fats, salt and sugar in food; the heavy advertising of junk food to children; and a high level of screen time, watching television and video games.

In keeping with our role at CARPHA, to prevent disease, promote and protect health, we will be implementing a multi-level programme to promote healthy weight and prevent and control childhood obesity. This comprehensive programme was successful in changing the lifestyles of children in France and in reducing the problem of obesity.  A CARPHA scientific expert group has identified this as a unique best practice globally.

However, there will need to be significant support and investment from the public and private sectors and I remain confident that this will occur given the need to protect the health of our children.

CARPHA, along with our member states, has set the strategic goal of reducing avoidable deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025.  We will also seek to reduce and reverse the levels of childhood obesity.  You see, at CARPHA, we see that the need to act is paramount to safeguard the health of our children.  And we promise to act – together with member states and our partners in health, civil society and the private sector.  We will advocate for social and policy changes that reduce and reverse the epidemic of obesity in our children. I thank you” Dr. C. James Hospedales, Executive Director, CARPHA

Given CARPHA’s concerns about the number of people from the Caribbean who suffer from either diabetes, blood pressure or obesity I’ve decided to feature videos that offer advice on either avoiding or controlling these illnesses.

Caribbean Wellness Month in Guyana

This video is a wonderful demonstration of how a government concerned with social welfare can get important healthcare messages across. The video does, in parts, get bogged down in its presentation style so some of the information is delivered in dry monotone.

Heart Risks Warning For African Caribbeans

I’ve included this video as it makes it clear that the message on dietary concerns isn’t just for those that live on Caribbean islands but one for the entire African/Caribbean diaspora.

How to Lower Blood Pressure Quickly

 As the title suggest this isn’t just a recipe video but a diet and lifestyle guide, albeit the dietary advice part of the video isn’t aimed at one particular set of people.



How To Make Caribbean Style Carrot Punch (juice)


Picking up on one of the lines of commentary in the CARPHA explanation, the high consumption of sweet fizzy drinks, I’ve included this video as a timely reminder that the Caribbean used to famous for its homemade non-alcoholic drinks. Though the recipe in this video includes a can of condensed milk you at least have the option of reducing the amount of sugar you put in your own version.


Food for Thought: Chef Skai’s Critique of Caribbean Restaurants

This particular video has been included in recognition that restaurants have a role to play in helping us to eat a healthy diet. Oddly enough one of things being complained about is Caribbean restaurant owners being reluctant or unable to discuss with their diners the ingredients of the food on offer; maybe we ought to be a little more demanding of the restaurants that we are willing to support.


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Category: Business, Caines Corner, CariBusiness, Culture & Society, Health & Fitness, How Caribbean R U?

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