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Cayman Islands Government

Tackling Childhood Obesity

Dr. Sook Yin presents the task force programme to Minister of Health Mark Scotland (r) and Ministry Deputy Chief Officer Stran Bodden (l).

Recent observations by the Health Services Authority (HSA) point to a looming crisis of obese children in the Cayman Islands. From the annual health screening on school entry level children and those in transition from lower to middle school, the HSA discovered that 22 per cent of school children are overweight and 14.8 percent were at risk of becoming overweight.

Childhood obesity in the Cayman Islands is a grave concern and many community efforts have been made over the years to tackle this problem.

For the first time a collaborative effort is being made to address this problem with the development of the Children's Health Task Force (CHTF).

"Over the last several years, many businesses and organizations have been working on and implemented a variety of children's health programs and initiatives which have been successful. For the first time, a collaborative effort is being made to address this problem holistically and comprehensively by joining forces", Maureen Cubbon, Program Coordinator for The Children's Health Task Force (CHTF) states.

The developing partners in the Children's Health Task Force are Rotary Sunrise Grand Cayman, Cayman Heart Fund, Generali Worldwide, TrinCay Medical, BodySculptor and the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority. The core team of developers for this project is made up of doctors, nutritionists, nurses, health experts and community advocates for the betterment of the health of the youth of Cayman.

The CHTF will be working with George Hicks High School to launch this pilot project to address the issue of childhood health and wellness. GHHS represents a wide cross section of children from all districts, with Year 7 presents the opportunity of being followed for the next 3 years to allow for proper evaluation of the program. Year 7 students represent the age group 11-12 years who are still pliable enough to be positively influenced in this regard.

"The Ministry of Health welcomes and supports this joint initiative. Teaching our children the value of preventative health care is no doubt a worthwhile investment in the future. Living well ensures healthier individuals, and ultimately curbs a nation's health care costs," says the Minister of Health the Hon. Mark Scotland.

Also voicing his support for the programme, Minister of Education the Hon. Rolston Anglin says, "There is no doubt that school children are a captive audience, and I commend the Children's Health Task Force for taking the message right to them. I would like to see healthy choices becoming a way of life for our students, and this is a big step in that direction.

"This is also a good example of meaningful cross-ministerial collaboration and a public-private partnership that can make a real difference.

"I am very interested in the outcome of the pilot programme, because as Minister I am eager to find ways to promote health and fitness in all schools, for all children," Minister Anglin adds.

"The overall object of this program is to develop a comprehensive successful program to focus on promoting and supporting healthy lifestyles for all children in schools and in the community through the creation of a nurturing environment, providing education on healthy eating and supporting opportunities for enjoyable physical activity. We will be working to help improve the nutritional services at GHHS, increase physical activity of students, improve knowledge and skills of teachers, parents and students with regard to healthier lifestyles and accomplish an effective program that is easily replicated across schools."

For more information about the Children's Health Task Force, or about anything in this article, please contact:

Maureen Cubbon of Generali Worldwide by email at Maureen.cubbon@ihs.ky, or by phone 747-2002/926-5137.