Bermuda urged to reduce obesity rate
Bermuda’s citizens must apply public pressure to support the movement against obesity, a leading US nutrition expert has urged.
Worldwide, obesity is now the fifth leading cause of death — and the current generation of children “could actually be on track to have a shorter lifespan than their parents”, said dietitian Joy Dubost.
“Every single one of us has a role to play — it’s about each of us taking responsibility and making a difference however we can,” Dr Dubost told Hamilton Rotary Club yesterday.
The US tops Bermuda in terms of obesity, but recent surveys show the Island isn’t far behind: seven in ten of Bermuda’s adults are overweight or obese and one in three are classed as obese.
“In the end, we know that solving obesity here in Bermuda will be a challenge and won’t be easy — and it certainly won’t be quick,” said Dr Dubost, who is visiting as part of Public Health Week. “But it can be done.”
Recent US trends show the rate of obesity either maintaining or even starting to decline, she said. Data released in just the past month shows a drop in obesity rates for children aged two to five.
Dr Dubost credited movements such as the ‘Let’s Move’ initiative pioneered by First Lady Michelle Obama, which gained support from food manufacturers and restaurants to improve access to fresh food.
“Let’s Move has inspired leaders from every sector to take ownership of this issue,” she said. “This broad and inclusive engagement will continue to ensure success in lowering obesity rates.”
Obesity’s link to chronic disease has fuelled the urgency: communities worldwide are spending “extremely high amounts of money” treating obesity-related conditions.
“It’s paramount that the increased rates in being overweight or obese be halted, and should be treated as a matter of urgency,” Dr Dubost said.
“The good news is this epidemic can be reversed. The benefits of a healthy eating plan and engaging in regular physical activity can result in substantial reductions in not only the risk of being overweight or obese, but the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.”
The link was underscored by Dr Dubost’s introduction by David Hills, chairman of the Bermuda Diabetes Association.
The Island’s rise in chronic disease is “very serious — and this is the time for us to change that direction”, Mr Hills said.
Public Health Week continues today with a workout presented at 6pm in Victoria Park by the Department of Health, in tandem with Bermuda Broadcasting Company.
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