The increasing incidence of chronic disease

Read our article in The Chamber Magazine, eversion 

When choosing a diet you should consider:

  • Choose whole grains, legumes, and staples high in fibre
  • Enjoy at least 5 portions-A-Day of fruits and vegetables
  • Limit added sugars and concentrated sugars
  • Replace “bad fats” (saturated and trans fatty acids) with “good fats” (mono- and poly-unsaturated fats)
  • Limit salt (sodium) intake
  • Drink alcohol in moderation

The increasing incidence of chronic disease has emerged as one of the most important health issues in the 21st century, worldwide – and here in Cayman.

So along with its regular free flu shots, the aim of the Health Service Authority (HSA) showcase in this year’s Chamber Expo is to heighten awareness of health and well-being and to actively encourage the Cayman community to engage in regular physical activity and to choose healthy lifestyles.

Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the burden of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, obesity and cancer on individuals, their families and of course the healthcare system.

Although you have heard this theme over and over again, it is so important that it must be  repeated yet again.   Chronic diseases, caused by the lack of healthy lifestyle trends, are the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Chronic diseases such as diabetes and kidney failure are very common here in the Cayman Islands.

Based on a wealth of scientific evidence, the WHO also asserts that unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are two of the main risk factors for raised blood pressure (hypertension), raised blood glucose (diabetes), abnormal cholesterol levels and obesity, all of which commonly lead to chronic diseases. 

On a positive, note these risk factors are  within  our control, both as individuals and as a community. 

Little changes in lifestyle will lead to  big outcomes in our standard of health now and for the future and it is important to the H.S.A. to be a part of that change.

By investing in health promotion and the prevention of illness and injury, we can help improve the health of all Cayman Islands residents, reduce and prevent chronic disease, and relieve pressure on our public health care system.

As many chronic illnesses are products of an entire way of life and do not manifest themselves until later in age it is important for individuals to start making healthier decisions for themselves and their families while they are still young and in better  health.  Although genetics can play a major role in chronic diseases, it is only part of a whole package and is not always the final deciding factor. 

As a part of the HSA’s stance on preventative measures, it hopes to also show how simple choices can affect the quality of your life.  Based on the most recent scientific evidence, choosing a healthy diet and regular physical activity go a long way in the prevention of chronic illnesses. 

Research has confirmed that any amount of exercise, at any age, is beneficial for a person’s health.  It is recommended that one should strive for a total of an hour per day of physical activity. You may wonder where in your day you may have an extra hour but the hour can be made up of several shorter bursts of activity. 

The good news is this does not have to mean going to the gym.  Simple things like parking farthest from a store entrance, walking around your neighborhood with your children or even taking the stairs instead of the elevator is all it takes.  If you can find the time for more strenuous exercise, that is even better.  

Exercise has been proven to help fight off stroke, heart disease and even Type II Diabetes.  And physical activity in not just about losing weight – it has many other health and longevity benefits.

According to WHO, different types and amounts of physical activity are required for different health outcomes. At least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity on most days can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer.

Muscle strengthening and balance training can reduce falls and increase functional status among older adults.

For weight control, research has shown that more activity, up to 60 minutes on most days, may be required for some people, but more importantly, the key to weight loss is decreasing the amount of calories you are eating, not by exercising more.  This is a very common misconception.

For more information on healthy living guidelines please visit the H.S.A classroom at this year’s Expo. 
(345) 949-8600
[email protected]


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