In 2014, Saba Fit, the programme geared towards countering childhood obesity, measured the height and weight of all elementary school children for the ﬁ rst time. Last month the measurements were repeated. The results show that many school children are still overweight.
In 2016, 28 per cent had an above healthy weight, which is similar to the 29 per cent in 2014. However, there are now more children with severe overweight, -one in seven-, compared with one in nine in 2014.
These numbers are much higher than in the European Netherlands where 12 per cent of children aged 4 to 12 is overweight or obese. The United States has similar ﬁgures to Saba. The results also show an increase in underweight children. Although this ﬁnding is less often medically relevant it is deemed important to follow up as it can be a sign of a poor diet.
New Public Health Nurse Jetty Martens has started seeing individual children with weight problems.
In general, three out of four obese children will remain obese in adulthood. The health effects of obesity are very serious. In the short term these children are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
Later in life they are more at risk of adult health problems such as heart disease, type-two diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.
Saba Fit has been active, together with schools and many organisations on the island, in educating children and their parents and in organising and supporting activities geared toward the three core messages: “Just Move, Eat Right and Drink Water.
A new edition of Saba Fit The Course will start at the end of the year. “If we want this generation of Sabans to have a healthy and fair start in life we all need to work together: parents, churches, schools, government, grocery stores and restaurants. Fresh, healthy food can sometimes be expensive and the Saban hills do not encourage biking to school, but we can cut down on sugary drinks and fruit juices, we can limit screen time, we can stimulate outside play and sports, and often one piece of candy instead of a full bag is sufﬁcient,” said Dr. Koen Hulshof of the Public Health Department and Saba Fit.
The Daily Herald.