Former GraceKennedy Scholar Professor Marvin Reid focused on the issue of nutrition at the annual GraceKennedy Foundation Lecture, which took place on Monday, March 14 at the Jamaica Pegasus. Hundreds were keen on digesting the revealing information provided in the lecture entitled, Overfed & Undernourished: Dietary Choices in Modern Jamaica.’
In his 45-minute long presentation, Professor Reid highlighted the various challenges across all sectors of the Jamaican demographic, caused by the wrong food choices. He pointed out that the country spends approximately J$80 billion on lifestyle -related illnesses per year including diabetes and hypertension. He noted that obesity was also becoming an issue in Jamaica, as shown in the 2008 Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey (JHLS), which reported that 25 per cent of the Jamaican population was obese. He also said that under nutrition was a significant issue.
Professor Reid stated that all stakeholders had a role to play in creating a healthier, productive population. Giving examples of the right food choices, he noted that individuals had to take responsibility for what they put into their bodies and those of their children. He added that the government also had a role to play in addressing the dietary issues faced by the population.
He treated the attendees inside the filled to capacity ballroom, to a range of solutions to address their personal dietary choices, including monitoring the number of calories in each meal. He also urged mothers to breastfeed their children for the first six months of their lives (at the very least), as breast-feeding has been shown to be critical to the overall development of the child, especially in later years.
For the first time this year, the GraceKennedy Foundation introduced its #ChooseMyPlate competition, where high schools with a Food and Nutrition lab, offering the subject at the CSEC level, were encouraged to upload video entries of preparation of a healthy meal using $2000 worth of (mainly Grace) products. Three schools – one from each county – were awarded a $75,000 grant towards their Food and Nutrition Lab. Each student, as well as the teachers involved, also won $5,000 gift certificates courtesy of Hi-Lo. The winners were Godfrey Stewart High School (Cornwall), Charlemont High School (Middlesex) and Excelsior High School (Surrey). The schools also got the opportunity to display their winning meals at the Lecture.