FAO: Dominicans Among Fattest in the Caribbean
Dominica has emerged as one of the top four Caribbean countries whose adult population is obese, according to a report released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The report ranked Trinidad and Tobago sixth among all countries worldwide with 30 per cent of its adult population obese. Mexico with 32.8 per cent of its adult population obese topped the chart, knocking off the United States as the World's Fattest Developed Nation.
The United States has a rate of 31.8 per cent.
Antigua and Barbuda at number 18 worldwide is the second Caribbean island featured on the chart with 25. 8 per cent of its adult population obese, followed by St. Vincent and the Grenadines ranked 21 (25.1 per cent) and Dominica 22nd (25 per cent).
The four Caribbean countries were among the top 25 countries worldwide ranked by the FAO.
The report entitled: The State of Food and Agriculture 2013 stated that at the global level, the social cost of malnutrition, measured by the "disability-adjusted life years" lost to child and maternal malnutrition and to overweight and obesity, are very high.
"Beyond the social cost, the cost to the global economy caused by malnutrition, as a result of lost productivity and direct health care costs, could account for as much as 5 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), equivalent to US$3.5 trillion per year or US$500 per person, " the report stated. "The challenge for policy-makers is how to address these problems while at the same time avoiding or reversing the emergence of overweight and obesity. This challenge is significant, but the returns are high: investing in the reduction of micronutrient deficiencies, for example, would result in better health, fewer child deaths and increased future earnings, with a benefit-to-cost ratio of almost 13 to 1".
To reduce the problem FAO suggests a high level of cross sectorial coordination and significant political support to tackle these problems and improve food production.
"Food systems encompass all the people, institutions and processes by which agricultural products are produced, processed and brought to consumers," the report stated. "Every aspect of the food system influences the availability and accessibility of diverse, nutritious foods and thus the ability of consumers to choose healthy diets. But the linkages from the food system to nutritional outcomes are often indirect – mediated through incomes, prices, knowledge and other factors. What is more, food system policies and interventions are rarely designed with nutrition as their primary objective, so impacts can be difficult to trace and researchers sometimes conclude that food system interventions are ineffective in reducing malnutrition."
The report added: "Every aspect of the food system must align to support good nutrition; any single intervention in isolation is therefore unlikely to have a significant impact within such a complex system.
"Agricultural productivity growth contributes to better nutrition through raising incomes, especially in countries where the sector accounts for a large share of the economy and employment, and by reducing the cost of food for all consumers. It is, however, important to realize that the impact of agricultural productivity growth is slow and may not be sufficient to cause a rapid reduction in malnutrition. Maintaining the momentum of growth in agricultural productivity will remain crucial in the coming decades as production of basic staple foods needs to increase by 60 percent if it is to meet expected demand growth."