Jamaica announces restricting sugar sweetened beverages in schools and health facilities

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Boarding1Now
© Getty Images / Boarding1Now
Health advocates have hailed new restrictions imposed by the Government of Jamaica on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in the country’s schools and public health facilities.

The restrictions, which will come into force in January 2019, were announced by the country’s health minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton.

“By sugary drinks we mean beverages that contain sugar, syrup added by the manufacturer. It does not include 100% juice or unsweetened milk,” ​he said, according to the Jamaica Information Service​.

“If we are going to impose it in schools, I believe in public health we must also lead by example, and so the same policy will become effective. Except for where there are prescribed dietary guidelines for patients, the same policy will be introduced in our public health infrastructure across the length and breadth of this country.”

No details are available yet, and Dr Tufton said his ministry will work with manufacturers and distributors to provide the policy guideline.

The announcement was welcomed by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC): “The HCC strongly supports this policy measure, which is part of a wider strategy to combat the urgent epidemic of childhood overweight and obesity we are facing in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.

“The HCC strongly supports this policy measure, which is part of a wider strategy to combat the urgent epidemic of childhood overweight and obesity we are facing in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.”

Concerning statistics

The move was spurred by startling statistics that show the obesity in 13 to 15 year olds increased by 68% over the past seven years, with the prevalence in boys doubling. Looking across the Caribbean, one in three children are either overweight or obese.

Dr. Tufton noted that the Caribbean nation ranks in the top 10 globally for soft-drink consumption in 13 to 15 year olds, with SSB consumption levels exceeding recommendations.

“Approximately 70% of Jamaican children consume one or more sugar-sweetened beverage per day and 77% of our adults consume one or more sugar-sweetened beverage per day,” ​he said, according to the Jamaica Information Service.

“This is a serious problem. Consumption of one or more servings of sugar-sweetened beverages per day is associated with a 26 per cent greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes,” ​he said.

The HCC added: “The HCC applauds the leadership of the Government of Jamaica in its actions taken to combat [non-communicable diseases.”

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