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Global experts join Jamaican public health leaders to discuss obesity epidemic

Childhood obesity is a growing public health problem in Jamaica. One-third of children in Jamaica are either overweight or obese, and this number is rising. In response to an ongoing debate on the role that junk food and sugary drinks play on obesity, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator worked with our in-country partner, the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, to convene a global public health experts forum. The forum, held on January 11., included more than 100 members of civil society, government, academia and the media. It was held at a critical moment, when the Jamaican government debates policies to address the country’s obesity epidemic.

The Jamaican minister of education joined global and local public health experts in a discussion about the scientific evidence linking sugary drink consumption and obesity and how sugary drink consumption increases the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer and diabetes. Global experts from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Pan American Health Organization shared evidence on the links between sugary drinks and obesity-related diseases and how fiscal policies are effective solutions to promote healthy behavior change.

The forum was co-sponsored by the Heart Foundation of Jamaica and Pan American Health Organization in partnership with the Jamaican Ministry of Health, Association of Consultant Physicians of Jamaica, Caribbean Institute for Health Research and Jamaica Moves.