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Ministries to Promote Healthy Foods

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Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says he is in discussion with the Education Ministry, to develop a partnership to promote healthy foods.

“Already, discussions are underway with Minister (of Education), Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, because we are dealing with schools. Research is showing that many in the adolescent age group are now suffering from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes and high blood pressure,” the Minister said.

Speaking at the official opening of an Island Grill restaurant at the University of Technology (UTech), in Kingston, on Tuesday, February 18, the Minister said because of the illnesses affecting the children, it is essential for both Ministries to tackle the issue.

“We cannot treat our way out of this problem, despite advances in this area. Such an approach will continue to present immense and ever-spiralling costs to the society, and the Government. We must invest in preventing these diseases. Jamaica is at a time when we have to be looking at those companies that are working in the best interest of the people,” Dr. Ferguson said.

The Minister pointed out that consumption of foods that are high in fats, salts and sugars could contribute to the prevalence of NCDs.

“Promoting public awareness about diet has been shown to be ineffective; it works better if we provide supportive environments with accessible and affordable healthy food choices. The environment largely shapes people’s behaviours,” Dr. Ferguson said.

The Minister is imploring operators of food establishments to help in the preservation of a healthy population.

“The food and beverage industry is uniquely placed, in that it is both part of the NCD problem, and part of the solution. Today’s event is one such example of the food and beverage industry being part of the solution to the problem. It can improve the availability of healthier food options, such as vegetables, and the reduction of salt content,” he added.

By Garfield L. Angus

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