Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands said in an effort to address the impact the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases has on The Bahamas, the Ministry of Health is pleased to partner with the Ministry of Education, Foodie Co. (a Small Business Development Centre Program affiliate) and Corporate Bahamas to launch the 100 per cent SMART Fruit for Kids Pilot Program at Centreville Primary School. During a press conference at the Ministry of Health, Wednesday, January 22, 2020, Dr. Sands explained that for a period of six weeks, all students and teachers will be provided with fresh fruit for a minimum of twice a week.
“Along with the fruit, additional resources will be supplied that promote the benefits of healthy eating in fun and creative ways.” The Health Minister explained that through this initiative it is hoped that even at an early age, the partnership will demonstrate that the students of Centreville Primary School:
· developed a heightened sense of awareness about making informed choices about why they eat,
· became excited about the power of fruit, and fostered an affinity for them,
· understand that most NCD’s such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol can be prevented by making and maintaining healthy lifestyle choices and,
· gained the skills and knowledge to be able to engage with their family members about eating healthy and adopting wellness habits.
Dr. Sands stated, “According to the World Health Organization, educating children about good eating habits has the potential to enhance the nutrition and health status of their younger siblings whom they may take care of, as well as of other family members that learn concomitantly with their children.” He added, “Numerous studies show that early indicators of chronic disease begin in youth. Eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables is associated with decreased risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease.”
The Health Minister noted that following the results of the 2019 STEPS Survey, there were greater insights into the country’s NCD summary. He said based on the initial findings, as it relates to fruit & vegetables, only 15 per cent of the population (aged 18 to 69 years) eats the recommended five or more servings a day. The vast majority of Bahamian population eats less than three servings each day. Dr. Sands said that with increased intake of added salt, sugar, and less than 50 per cent of Bahamians drinking the recommended eight glasses or more of water each day — most families in our country are being significantly affected by preventable NCD’s.