Eat smart programme at 22 schools

Twenty-two primary schools in
Cayman have signed up to take part in a Be Active and Eat Smart programme.

This is the sixth year the
programme has been in operation in schools.

“This programme is something that
Generali Worldwide is very proud of and we are happy to once again offer to
schools in the Cayman Islands,” said Maureen Cubbon, marketing manager at
Generali Worldwide and programme coordinator of the Be Active Programme.

“There are 22 schools in the Cayman
Islands that have enjoyed having the Be Active team, led by Laura Ribbins of
Fitness Connection, visit and offer fun and informative assemblies for
students, support for parents through PTA meetings, Be Active Days Out with
students, and supporting the already existing programmes in the schools around
health and wellness,” Ms Cubbon added.

Be Active and Eat Smart is a
children’s fitness and healthy eating programme that works with students,
teachers, parents, community leaders and health professionals. It was developed
for the Cayman Islands by Generali Worldwide in the 2005-2006 school year.

It aims to educate young children
about healthy behaviours in school to help them develop good habits that last a
lifetime. The programme includes information about nutrition and fitness, as
well as in-school health and wellness sessions, presentations and special
events at the school to get kids moving and learning the benefits of exercise
and eating well. “We want to focus on primary age children since this is the
time where they start to really develop habits that shape their future. The
children just love the programme and we have really seen some great support
over the years,” said Ms Cubbon.

The programme has also launched in
the Bahamas and the Be Active programme has entered the Caribbean Food and Nutrition
Institutes Regional Competition for programmes focused on health and wellness
around the Caribbean.

“We did a short film as our
submission, so with the great work that CayPro Films did for us, we are
crossing our fingers and hoping we place in the top three,” said Ms Cubbon.

Child obesity reaches alarming rate

Some 22 million children younger
than five are estimated to be overweight worldwide. The life expectancy of
those who develop diabetes is projected to be 13 years less than the national
average in the United States. Obesity accounts for 2-6 per cent of total health
care costs in several developed countries; some estimates put the figure as
high as 7 per cent.

Obesity in the Caribbean has
increased at an alarming rate in recent decades and has surpassed that of the
United States. “We have seen trends in the Cayman Islands that show that the
health of the youth is of national concern,” Ms Cubbon said.

She said it is vital to prevent
obesity and promote healthy lifestyle choices at the childhood stage, before
chronic health problems like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and other
health issues arise.

Ms Cubbon is also a programme
coordinator of the Children’s Health Task Force, which is entering its second
year of a three-year pilot programme called Health4Youth. It involves 175
students at George Hicks High School, and began when the students were in Year
7.

“Health4Youth works with a pilot
group of children already suffering or at risk from obesity… whereas the Be
Active programme takes a more preventive approach. They also are aimed at
different age groups,” Ms Cubbon said.

The Health4Youth programme aims to
change the eating habits of children and increase their amount of exercise.
Statistics relating to the first year of the programme are being collated.

Recently, the Cayman Heart Fund
donated $14,661 toward the programme for the 2010-2011 year. The proceeds were
from the annual Ken Chand Walk held on 17 May. Cayman Heart Fund donated
$10,000 toward 2009-2010 programme year at the George Hicks high school.

“The Cayman Heart Fund is committed
to reducing obesity among children by improving the health of our country’s
children,” said Suzy Soto, chairman of Cayman Heart Fund.

The Children’s Health Task Force
was also instrumental, along with the Ministry of Health, in drawing up the
Cayman Islands Public Schools: Standards for Food Provision, which stipulates
that healthier food options must be offered during lunch and snack breaks at
government school canteen as part of the requirement for canteen contracts,
which are publicly tendered.

For more information about the Be
Active programme, visit www.beactiveeatsmart.com or contact Maureen Cubbon at [email protected]