Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Let’s not sugarcoat narrative on NCDs

Published:Saturday | June 10, 2023 | 12:06 AM


An effort is needed to raise awareness of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Jamaica. Any illness that requires long-term care impacts long-term health and is not primarily brought on by a severe illness, is referred to as a non-communicable disease (Pan-American Health Organization/World Health Organization). The Ministry of Health and Wellness states that the most prevalent NCDs in Jamaica are diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Respiratory illnesses and cancer are also prevalent.

We need to open our eyes to what we eat. This letter is to those like me, stuck in the endless loop of ‘feeling fi sumn nice’. We can enjoy food and ‘live, love, laugh’ for longer, if we watch what we eat and are more mindful of the effect food high in sodium and sugar have on our bodies. Almost everything has a healthy alternative.


I am writing from the perspective of someone who, growing up, was desensitised to high blood pressure and high blood sugar, once believing that by a certain age hypertension or diabetes is inevitable. The sweets and salts we crave do more harm than good. I was hit by the realisation after seeing the startling statistic that “one in three women and 15 per cent of males in Jamaica are categorised as obese, which represents a quarter of the population” (United Nations Jamaica).

A healthy lifestyle is something that I strive for. I have since been following the recommendations of a naturopathic practitioner, spending my days on a blood-type diet, eating what is recommended solely by my blood type, and I have been seeing results since the beginning of that journey. My fellow Jamaicans, we can fight this.

According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (2022), having high blood pressure increases the likelihood of developing dementia, or cognitive decline. Additionally, diabetes patients pay twice as much for healthcare as those without the disease.

Organisations like The Heart Foundation of Jamaica, in partnership with The Global Health Advocacy Project, are working to improve public support for initiatives aimed at preventing obesity and NCDs in Jamaica through a comprehensive school nutrition policy, front-of-package warning labelling, restrictions on marketing unhealthy foods and beverages to children, and a levy on sugary drinks. It is imperative the people, especially the youth, become aware of these issues and take concerted effort to eat healthily and lead a healthy lifestyle.


Third-Year Student

BA Integrated

Marketing Communication