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