Categorized | National News


Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands yesterday revealed some sobering statistics surrounding non communicable diseases in The Bahamas, and it all boils down to obesity.

Leading off debate in parliament on the 2019/2020 budget, he said that four out of five Bahamians are overweight and 49. 2 per cent are obese. 

“For sake of comparison 39 per cent of the world population were overweight in 2016 and 13 per cent were obese. In a (meta-analysis) study of 2.88 million people, obesity was associated with a hazard ratio of 1.18, which basically means that just by being obese, you have a 25 per cent of dying just because you’re obese,” he said. 

The Minister added that obesity also heightens one’s chance of getting cancer, type two diabetes, renal failure, or even stroke. 

In fact, he said that the country’s risk factor profile and related complications for NCD’s is not encouraging.

He said that 90 per cent of Bahamians eat insufficient fruits and vegetables, 72.6 per cent have adopted a sedentary lifestyle,  16.7 per cent  are current smokers,  40.8 per cent are current alcohol users, 58.2 per cent have an abnormally high blood pressure (132,741 persons), and 23.9% are diabetic (92,000k persons).  

More than 600 persons, he said, are on hemodialysis at an annual cost of $25 million, while 75 lower limb amputations are conducted each year.

“These lifestyle related issues mean that Bahamians are on average sicker than most, require more health care services than most, die prematurely as compared to most, and have health care costs that are more expensive. We also do not live on a single land mass where services can be consolidated,” he said.

He added, “consequently, our health care needs (demands) outstrip our financial capacity to pay …and the financing gap must come from somewhere. So, let us be clear. This is not about body shaming or simply about personal choices of esthetics. We are paying an incredible toll because of our lifestyle choices.”

That toll, he said, is paid not just in health care cost,  but in a mounting pile of sick and dying Bahamians. 

As the war against NCD’s wages on, the minister indicated that that his ministry will aggressively study the world’s experience with sugar sin taxes for an evidence-based recommendation. 

He noted that there are advocates who believe this will not only curb consumption, but also generate revenue to address the challenges of unhealthy consumption. 

There are also plans to introduce “Bahamas moves” – a program that’s a part of the “Caribbean Moves” initiative geared towards encouraging increased physical activity. 

Written by Jones Bahamas

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