The Heart Foundation of Jamaica last week launched its obesity prevention campaign, dubbed ‘Are you drinking yourself sick?’, to encourage Jamaicans to reduce the amount of added sugar in their diets.
According to the foundation, this public education campaign shows the journey of a busy working mother, Rosie, as she consumes sugary drinks throughout the day.
The media campaign shows that excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages can lead to obesity.
“To say we are pleased to be launching this campaign in Jamaica is indeed an understatement, as our vision at The Heart Foundation of Jamaica is to help Jamaicans to have a longer and better quality of life. One way that we can live a healthier lifestyle is by reducing the amount of sugar we consume,” said Deborah Chen, executive director.
The initiative is being supported by the Ministry of Health, led by Dr Christopher Tufton and the Jamaica Moves programme. The minister said, “A campaign such as this is consistent with what we are trying to achieve as a ministry. I am happy for this national dialogue with other stakeholders, where we can discuss curtailing the high level of obesity in Jamaica. This issue has long-term negative impact not only on the health system, but the economy. The extent to which consumption of certain items, particularly sugary drinks, will negatively affect persons also has to be a consideration of those who make these products. We have an obligation to the greater good of society.”
– In Jamaica, 78 per cent of all deaths (nearly four in five) are caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
– According to the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey (2008), nearly two-thirds (64.7 per cent) of adult women in Jamaica are overweight and obese, compared to 38.2 per cent of men.
– Obesity places a huge burden on the individual, governments and society. Obesity significantly increases health-care costs, causes lost wages due to illnesses and disability, reduces work productivity, generates earlier retirement, and adversely affects well-being in many other ways. Jamaica’s economy is projected to lose over $77.1 billion over the next 15 years (2017-2032) in terms of direct (treatment costs) and indirect costs (lost productivity) due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes complications alone.
– Excess sugar consumption is a major cause of obesity and its related diseases, as excessive sugar intake causes increased risk of diabetes, liver and kidney damage, heart disease, and some cancers.
– The World Health Organization (WHO) published guidelines that individuals should consume no more than 10 per cent of total calories from added sugar, which is equivalent to 12 level teaspoons per day.
– The Global School Health Survey (2010) revealed that 72.5 per cent of adolescents ages 13-15 years old drink carbonated soft drinks one or more times per day. Drinking these amounts of sugary drinks increased their odds for overweight by 50 per cent.
– Sugary drinks have NO nutritional value and are particularly harmful to the body because the sugar is in liquid form. Sugar in liquid form is absorbed more quickly by the liver than the liver might be able to process and release; the excess becoming stored as fat or glycogen deposits in the liver. This can lead to fatty liver disease and increased risks for diabetes and other NCDs.
– Based on these realities, The Heart Foundation of Jamaica and the Ministry of Health are accelerating efforts to help Jamaicans recognise the harm in sugary drinks.
– Persons are being encouraged to follow the @heartfoundationja, @themohgovjm and @jamaicamoves to learn more about how they can reduce added sugar in their diets. Also, persons can share via social media using the hashtags #AreYouDrinkingYourselfSick and #LessSugarMoreLife to support the campaign