The Bahamas is losing its battle with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD), according to Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands, who said the country has the worst NCD rate in the Americas and the Caribbean.
While addressing parliamentarians in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Dr. Sands said, The Bahamas is the sixth most obese country in the world, has the highest incidents of diabetes in the world and revealed that Bahamians have hypertension so severe that the country ranks number seven in the world in deaths related to high blood pressure.
Dr. Sands said it is clear Bahamians are eating themselves to death.
“Ten to 25 per cent of adults in the Caribbean have diabetes, twice the world average, and 20 to 50 per cent have high blood pressure,” Dr. Sands said.
“As many as per cent do not know they have high blood pressure and as many as 80 per cent do not know they have high cholesterol.
“NCD’s account for more than 75 per cent of all deaths. Despite leading the world in awareness of the problem, we are losing the battle and NCD’s are overwhelming health services and challenging their sustainability in Caribbean countries. The Bahamas has the worst NCD profile in the Americas and in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).”
In response to these startling statistics, Dr. Sands said, the government embarked on a breadbasket review exercise to support healthier food choices. He also said he will ensure that all items added to the new national breadbasket will be affordable, especially to those who “struggle to feed their loved ones”.
“Food and nutrition decisions are not simply a matter of individual choice. Economic and social factors, environment, and working conditions, salaries and employment levels, all impact a person’s capacity to make healthy food and nutrition choices,” he said.
“We recognize the fundamental and heartbreaking challenge faced by mothers and families who struggle to feed their loved ones. We will ensure that the revision results in affordable options for all. No matter how healthy a meal may be, it is of no value if you cannot afford it. Mr. Speaker. The new breadbasket will be affordable.”
The update to the current breadbasket is expected to take effect on July 1, 2018. The government is suggesting the removal of sugar, milk, margarine, mayonnaise, corned beef, canned meats and canned soup.
These items will be replaced with beans and peas, raw almonds and cashews, fresh oranges and apples, root crops, oatmeal, tuna, sardines and mackerel.