The Daily Herald writes that results of theBody Mass Index (BMI) testing held at Saba’s Sacred Heart School in May, indicate that one-third of the school population is not at a healthy weight. The BMI tests revealed that 18 per cent of the school population is overweight and 11 per cent obese, whereas five per cent of pupils are to be considered underweight.
The testing was organised by Saba Fit and measurements were carried out by 35 Saba University School of Medicine (SUSOM) student-volunteers. The procedures were supervised by faculty Dr. Ramona Dumitrescu, community physician Dr. Gina Boorsma and Saba Fit coordinator La-Toya Charles. The measurements were sent to Youth on a Healthy Weight, Jongeren Op Gezond Gewicht (JOGG) bureau in The Netherlands for calculation, analysis and interpretation. Saba Fit is a member of the nationwide Dutch JOGG initiative.
The purpose of the BMI testing was to obtain adequate results that would eventually be used to gauge the impact of Saba Fit’s public health campaign.
The data have been submitted to Saba Health Care Foundation and Saba Fit steering committee member Dr. Boorsma where parents are able to obtain individualised advice for their child. A total of 128 children participated in the BMI research project at the Sacred Heart School; 69 of which were boys and 59 girls. The children varied in age between 4 and 14. The BMI of 125 children could be calculated based on the measurements, of these 85 children (65.6 per cent) were classified as having a healthy weight; 37 (29.6 per cent) were classified as being overweight. Of the 37 children with overweight, 14 children were considered obese, whereas six children (4.8 per cent) were classified as underweight. Based on these measurements, more boys (71 per cent) than girls (61 per cent) have a healthy weight. Of the boys, 23.2 per cent were overweight or obese. Of the girls, 35.6 per cent are overweight or obese.
The interpretations of the BMI results are scaled according to the values used in the Netherlands. Saba Fit is a campaign aimed at reducing the risks of childhood obesity on Saba by encouraging young people between the ages of 4 and 18 to drink water, exercise and eat healthily.
According to the World Health Organisation, overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more likely to develop non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Childhood obesity and consequent hazardous health conditions can be easily prevented by increasing the consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts, shifting fat consumption away from saturated to unsaturated fats, limiting the intake of sugars, and engaging in developmentally appropriate moderate to intense physical activity for at least 60 minutes per day.
Sustained political commitment and the collaboration of public and private stakeholders is deemed necessary for childhood obesity to be prevented within communities by shaping environments and making healthier diet options for children and adolescents affordable and easily accessible. Saba Fit intends to continue to cooperate with stakeholders and use these BMI results to effectively address and reduce the risks of childhood obesity on Saba.