Wednesday 15 July, 2020

Reduce childhood obesity and diabetes by breastfeeding, says pediatrician

President of the Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Foundation (BCNF) and pediatrician, Dr. Alison Bernard is of the view that the high incidence of childhood obesity and diabetes can be lowered by improved breastfeeding practices.

Statistics from The Commission of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD Commission) show that Barbados is currently experiencing what has been described as an epidemic by Head of the Commission, Dr. Trevor Hassell, as is seen in the alarming statistics of overweight and obese children.

According to Dr. Bernard, the solution to the problem rests with adhering to the standards set out by the World Health Organization (WHO) in breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months.

“Here in Barbados we have 32 per cent of school-aged children who are overweight and also 14 per cent who are obese. We really need to get the message across to new mothers that exclusive breastfeeding helps to create healthier children in the future.”

Dr. Bernard told Loop News past statistics for the numbers of mothers in Barbados who breastfeed exclusively is worrying. She applauded the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) for the steps made to create a baby-friendly hospital, adding that the BCNF will intensify their public awareness campaign which includes a breastfeeding support group for new mothers.

“Our exclusive breastfeeding rate was 17 per cent, that is very low, but I believe by 2025 Barbados can achieve the standards set out by the World Health organization (WHO).

We want to start our support group, especially for new mothers. We want to show them that with commitment and perseverance the breastfeeding journey can be successful and rewarding.”

She also said the focus on child nutrition practices in Barbados also raises some concern. She applauded the government for the move to increase the tax on sweet drinks.

“The sweet drink tax was a great idea. I personally would like to see it go higher. That way we put our children on the path to improved nutrition. Even if you look at the high amounts of junk food children consume, it helps contribute to obesity. I’m not saying you can’t give children corn curls but let those be occasional treats.”


Alarming numbers of overweight children in Barbados 

NCD Commission moving to legislate fast food marketing to children 

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