Deyalsingh: Obesity a serious issue in T&T

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 11:45

T&T has obese men - why does vic­tim sham­ing on­ly ap­ply to women?

That ques­tion was raised on Tues­day by Health Min­is­ter Ter­rence Deyals­ingh who says he is not in­to vic­tim-sham­ing of any­one. He not­ed in many parts of the world women are blamed for things and even some rape vic­tims in the US are shamed.

How­ev­er, Deyals­ingh and for­mer Min­is­ter Fuad Khan - un­der fire for his re­cent com­ments on plus-sized women - have sim­i­lar thoughts on the need to in­form and ed­u­cate peo­ple on tak­ing care of their health.

Deyals­ingh spoke to re­porters at Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day fol­low­ing Khan's re­cent con­tro­ver­sial state­ments re­gard­ing a mas­quer­ad­er which some have dubbed "vic­tim sham­ing".

The Min­is­ter said one had to em­pathise with peo­ple who have health con­di­tions since many women have high blood pres­sure, di­a­betes, poly­cys­tic ovar­i­an syn­drome and oth­er is­sues.

"You can't shame those peo­ple, you don't know what they're suf­fer­ing," he said.

He said he was con­cerned that those with non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases - heart prob­lems, etcetera - who have poor lifestyle habits and are over­weight and lack ex­er­cise, need to be "lead to a bet­ter place."

Deyals­ingh said he had been "preach­ing" since 2016 of the need for peo­ple to take re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for their health.

He said T&T's non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­ease bur­den is phe­nom­e­nal.

He not­ed he had just spo­ken in the Sen­ate of a 17-year-old in To­ba­go who need­ed dial­y­sis and was end­stage, "he looked my age," Deyals­ingh added.

"We need to re­cal­i­brate the dis­cus­sions tak­ing place which lead peo­ple to vol­un­tar­i­ly seek bet­ter health."

Deyals­ingh ad­mit­ted that peo­ple won't change overnight with the Min­istry's NCD pro­gramme. But he said it was about ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple and "lead­ing them to a place where they make bet­ter de­ci­sions on how they eat, ex­er­cise, what they eat and how of­ten they eat."

Khan in a state­ment said yes­ter­day that as long as cit­i­zens con­tin­ue dis­re­gard­ing their health the chron­ic NCD epi­dem­ic will con­tin­ue plagu­ing T&T and mo­nop­o­lis­ing pub­lic health re­sources.

"The on­ly way to pre­vent this is to ed­u­cate and in­form the pop­u­lace how they can take care of their health and pre­vent the need for these types of treat­ment.

Cur­rent­ly, more than half of T&T's adult pop­u­la­tion is over­weight or obese. Al­so, 30 per cent to 60 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion doesn't achieve the min­i­mum rec­om­mend­ed lev­els of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ty dai­ly."

"Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey dur­ing my tenure as Health Min­is­ter the over­all preva­lence of smok­ing was 21 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion and for al­co­hol con­sump­tion, 40 per cent.

Com­pare this with the find­ings that 90 per cent of adults don't con­sume the rec­om­mend­ed serv­ings of fruits and veg­eta­bles dai­ly al­though we have an abun­dance of these lo­cal­ly.

These re­sults un­der­score the rea­son for the in­crease in non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble/lifestyle dis­eases.

Heart dis­ease, stroke, di­a­betes and can­cer ac­count for more than half of all T&T deaths."

"We need to start tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for our di­et and ex­er­cise to en­sure we don't be­come vic­tims of these chron­ic ail­ments.

For this rea­son, I want to send a pub­lic mes­sage to cit­i­zens to in­crease your dai­ly car­diac/aer­o­bic ac­tiv­i­ty, walk more, in­crease your fruit and oats in­take. Start seek­ing low glycemic foods as they make you full longer and lessen calo­ries. At the end of the day, the onus isn't on the doc­tors, but on your­selves."

Reporter: Gail Alexander