by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): One in three children within the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis are considered obese, so says Isalean Phillip Advocacy and Research Officer for local NGO Lake Health and Wellbeing.
Lake Health and Wellbeing is a registered NGO in St Kitts and Nevis that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of our local, regional, and online community through research, Public Health interventions, events, campaigns, and support services to small organisations according to their website.
The NGO was originally started in the UK in 2013 as the Lake Foundation; however, the founder, Abi Begho migrated to the federation in 2017 and changed the name of the foundation to the Lake Health and Wellbeing.
Currently, their focus is on childhood obesity prevention, women’s health, and consultancy.
During an interview on WINN’s Island Tea, Phillip as a Representative of the NGO delivered some startling figures as it relates to the non-communicable health concerns in the federation.
“In the past, we’ve done work on… NCDs… non-communicable diseases, cause that’s like a major health factor in St.Kitts… as a matter of fact, 83 percent of deaths in St. Kitts and Nevis are related to a non-communicable disease… preventable illnesses, so things like diabetes, different types of cancers, kidney diseases, stroke, those kinds of things that are particularly [based on] lifestyle choices. A lot of the focus on projects has been related to things like diabetes… also on Reproductive health like fibroids and endometriosis. So kind of work in that space to do different research campaigns and projects on those things in collaboration with regional agencies…”
One of the biggest factors that contribute to non-communicable diseases is obesity and one in three children in St. Kitts and Nevis are obese.
“Statistically… one in three children are considered overweight or obese, this is in St. Kitts, this is local statistics. One in two women are considered obese and one in three men. So the prevalence of obesity is pretty high across the federation.”
Phillip highlighted why the obesity rate of children is such a concern.
“The reason it’s such a major issue and concern, particularly among children, is because obesity is a major risk factor for developing a non-communicable disease… like diabetes. The diabetes rate in St. Kitts [is] also very high. It is more than twice the average worldwide.”
Recently, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevent shared information that indicated being obese increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. It stated people who are overweight may also be at increased risk; obesity may triple the risk of hospitalization due to a COVID-19 infection; linked to impaired immune function; decreases lung capacity and reserve and can make ventilation more difficult and studies have demonstrated that obesity may be linked to lower vaccine responses for numerous diseases including influenza, Hepatitis B and tetanus.
Phillip made another salient point as it relates to the effect of non-communicable diseases on society, especially during a pandemic.
“When you have a population of unhealthy people then that affects things like productivity, that will affect the [economy] and… eventually you’ll have a strain on the healthcare system which is a greater financial cost… going through a pandemic… that has accelerating effects for these conditions [non-communicable diseases].”