by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Continuing their mandate to “improve the health and wellbeing of our local, regional and online community,” Lake Health & Wellbeing as part of their “You’re Sweet Enough” campaign, is addressing how the pandemic and the current lockdown has changed people’s diets.
“Considering the economic challenges, the findings [are] that the purchase and consumption of cheaper more ultra processed foods that are actually high in sodium, high in sugars, and high in fat have actually increased, and that’s because of access,” said Isalean Phillip, Advocacy & Research Officer at Lake Health & Wellbeing.
She made those comments during WINN’s Island Tea on July 8, hosted by Azem Bailey, Jade Johnson and Kevon Hanley.
“The pandemic has affected access to care and access to resources that allow people to make sure that they can maintain [healthy] immune systems and healthy lives which is actually vital if we want to make sure that we can fight off the pandemic, regardless of if you are vaccinated or not, we still need to make sure that we are all eating well and being nutritious so that we can be healthy [and] combat [COVID-19], even if we do catch the virus.”
The 9-month campaign launched in March 2021, “is intended to raise awareness of the harmful health effects of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks, and to encourage everyone to drink water as the healthy alternative,” according to a statement on their website.
Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), has been linked to weight gain and obesity, and being overweight or obese increases a person’s risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.
In an article written by the Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Timothy NJ Antoine, he explains that the shock from the COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented job losses and is constraining low-income households’ ability to spend on food, particularly locally grown healthy foods.
Citing that governments who offered care and relief packages to the most vulnerable and impacted eventually had to discontinue such programs because of “severe fiscal constraints.”
An already deteriorating focus on proper food and nutrition has come under more strain because the income losses from the pandemic are limiting people from purchasing nutritious food.
In St Kitts and Nevis, research has shown that 45 percent of adults and 26 percent of children are obese, contributing to the high rate of NCDs in the Federation. NCDs contribute to 83 percent of deaths in St Kitts and Nevis.