The Daily Herald writes that Saba Fit organized the measuring of all primary school children’s Body-Mass Index (BMI) Wednesday morning at Sacred Heart School (SHS) in St. John’s. The activity was implemented by Saba University School of Medicine (SUSOM) students, supervised by faculty Dr. Ramona Dumitrescu, community physician Dr. Gina Boorsma and Saba Fit coordinator La-Toya Charles. School management complied with Saba Fit’s request, and allowed a team of 35 medical students to measure children’s BMI to obtain adequate results that gauge the impact of Saba Fit’s public-health campaign since its implementation.
The height and weight of each child was measured, whereas students also submitted the children to an anonymous 10-question survey, which looked at their water intake, meals frequency and dietary and exercise habits. Once analyzed by SUSOM faculty and students, the data will be submitted to Saba Health Care Foundation and Saba Fit steering committee member Boorsma. Parents would be able to obtain individualized advice for their child.
Saba Fit is grateful for the community support received so far, especially from SHS Principal Diane Wilson and teachers, who it said “were all very cooperative and receptive.” Charles said the children “were all enthusiastic about getting their measurements done and SUSOM-student volunteers engaged warmly with the students.” She also mentioned the support of Public Works school bus drivers in assisting in the transport of volunteers.
The activity is part of a long-term public health community campaign initiated in February with the aim to reduce the risks of childhood obesity. The programme encourages local youths to drink sufficient water instead of sweetened beverages, to eat healthy snacks and regular meals and to engage in regular physical exercise. Saba Fit is the replica of the nationwide Dutch initiative Jongeren op Gezond Gewicht JOGG (Youth at Healthy Weight).
As its continental peer, Saba Fit targets also five implementation pillars. The first is obtaining political endorsement and visibility, which was achieved in Commissioner Bruce Zagers signing the JOGG convenant in November 2013, including Saba among many municipalities throughout the kingdom. The second pillar is securing community buy-in through public/private partnerships. In this sense, Saba Fit has already collaborated on activities with Laura Linzey Day Care Centre, SHS, Saba Comprehensive School and Saba after School Care Programme. They worked together with Queen Wilhelmina Library, Child Focus, Saba Leos Club, Saba Reach Foundation the Organoponics Garden, Saba Health Care Foundation, SUSOM and Body Mind Spirit Foundation. The third pillar targets social marketing through postings of youth-health messages via social media, television infomercials and the development of short videos featuring Comprehensive School youth. The fourth pillar involves scientific guidance and monitoring and evaluation to ensure the effectiveness of the programme. The youth BMI-measurement activity addresses this aspect of the programme. The final pillar of the initiative is to connect prevention and care efforts by encouraging early detection of obesity risks in youth and facilitate timely referrals in collaboration with community stakeholders.