Survey finds one third of Cayman obese

A health risk factor survey shows that more than one third of respondents in the Cayman Islands are obese. 

The survey showed that, according to Body Mass Index classification, 36.6 per cent of those surveyed are obese and 70.6 per cent are overweight. 

Health Minister Mark Scotland described that finding as “a very alarming statistic”. 

People are considered to be of normal weight if their BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, overweight if their BMI is 25 to 29.9 and obese if their BMI 30 and above.  

The findings are from a health risk factor study carried out last year of more than 2,000 households in the 
Cayman Islands. 

As well as BMI, waist circumstance is also considered an indicator for further health 
problems, such as diabetes or heart disease. The survey showed that in Cayman, the mean waist circumference for women was 35.8 inches, which is greater than the recommended cut-off point of 34.6 inches. The mean waist circumference for men was 36.9 inches, which is slightly less than the recommended cut off point of 40 inches. 

This is the first adult risk factor survey conducted in the Cayman Islands, Mr. Scotland told a press briefing Thursday. 

The survey is part of an effort to gather data for the government, policy makers and health insurance providers to establish a national strategy for the prevention, control and management of noncommunicable diseases. 

Mr. Scotland said the survey provides valuable information and evidence on the risk factors of chronic diseases, which support the high prevalence of these diseases among adults locally and that it explained in part the increasing spending on healthcare in the Cayman Islands. 

“With these findings, our focus must be on prevention,” Mr. Scotland said. “A united approach is needed to turn the tide on these noncommunicable diseases. I urge the private sector and health insurance providers to act as an agent, as an advocate, for change and to encourage healthier lifestyles.” 



About 15 per cent of the population smoke tobacco, with twice as many men as women being smokers. The survey showed 20.7 per cent of men and 9 per cent of women smoke. Of those, the majority – 67.1 per cent – smoke daily, with more women than men being daily smokers. Smokers smoked an average of 10 cigarettes per day. 

The mean age for starting smoking was 20 years, although those surveyed in the older age group, 55 to 64 years, starting smoking at 24 years.  

Despite the Tobacco Law and Regulations coming into force in July 2010, which bans smoking in the workplace, approximately 10.8 per cent of the population said they were exposed to smoke at the workplace on one or more days per week. 


Risk factors 

The risk factors examined in the survey, which was carried out last year, include current daily smokers, less than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, low level of activity, weight, and raised blood pressure. 

The survey shows that 42.9 per cent of respondents reported having three or more of these risk factors. Among the age group 25 to 44 years, 39.2 per cent had three or more of the risk factors, indicating that they are at risk of developing chronic noncommunicable diseases. 

According to a report on the survey findings, the results indicate “an urgent need to target specific groups in the population group with health education and health promotion for the prevention and control” of noncommunicable diseases”. 



Consumption of alcohol was higher among men than women, with men ages 25 to 34, drinking more than their female counterparts. 

The survey indicated that 25.7 per cent of men and 14 per cent of women drank episodically, with men stating they had five or more on any day in the past 30 days and women having four or more drinks on one day in the previous month. 


Eating habits 

Men and women consume fruit and vegetable on average of 4.7 and 5.1 days per week, respectively; however, the servings were well below the recommended levels of five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.  

The majority of the respondents – 83.7 per cent ate less than five servings of fruit and/or vegetables on average per day. The vast majority (84.9 per cent) of respondents used vegetable oil for meal preparation. 



The survey found that slightly less than half – 47.9 per cent – of respondents were considered to have high levels of physical activity, but men were more likely to be physically active than women, with 61.6 per cent of men and 33.7 per cent of women involved in high levels of physical activity. 


Blood pressure 

The mean blood pressure among the population including those currently on medication for raised blood pressure was 124.8/76.1 mmHg. A similar proportion of both men (27.1 per cent) and women (24.2 per cent) were among those with raised blood pressure of greater or equal to 140/90 mmHg, who are currently on medication.  

Among both sexes, 15.8 per cent of the population had raised blood pressure 140/90mmHg or more, who were not currently on medication. 


Recommendations for the Ministry of Health 

Identify and earmark funds for ongoing noncommunicable disease strategy implementation and monitoring. 

Introduce lower tariffs on the importation of fruit and vegetable. 

Increase the level and duration of physical activity in all schools at an early age. 

Improve the approach to primary health care by improving access to healthcare through full participation of each person at an affordable cost. 

Disseminate the findings of the survey to the health insurance providers, Chamber of Commerce and other non-health government sectors. 

The Cayman Islands Noncommunicable Disease STEPS Risk Factor Survey, dubbed the “Healthy Nation Survey” was the first of its kind conducted in the adult population aged between 25 and 64 years. 

Households in 227 so-called enumeration areas were selected for the survey. The number of households selected was proportionate to the district size or number of households in each district. One eligible individual in each of the chosen households was interviewed. A total of 2,105 households were selected over the six districts of the 
three islands. 


  1. Cayman Fitness Tips

    A typical Cayman lunch or dinner consists of:

    Chicken / Beef / Meat
    Rice Beans
    Potato Salad / Breadfruit
    Macaroni Cheese
    Corn Bread
    Fried Plantain
    Lettuce Tomato
    Soda / Fruit Punch / Juice-Drink

    Mmmm – getting hungry? Most people would look at this meal and think that the meat and fried plantains are the weight gainers. You may be surprised.

    Do you feel slow, lethargic and lazy after lunch? (Yes – I am referring to what is locally known as the itis.) This feeling is actually due to the extremely high levels of carbohydrates (carbs) that are present in a typical Caymanian meal.

    It is not the normal-sized serving of meat that is making you gain weight; instead it is the high intake of energy-providing carbohydrates that have no chance of being used up by your body. This is why you feel so sluggish after lunch and dinner too much of the starchy foods in our meals.

    Our eating culture has a historical context. The active lifestyle, economic reality, and access to various foods determined our eating habits. However, nowadays most of us are inactive and only sit behind a desk all day long … this does not require much carbs. Therefore, the carbs that we intake are not used / burned up by the body so it simply stays in the body as FAT.

    Many people make the mistake and cut out meat and keep everything else when they go on a diet. This is a common mistake. (By the way, diets DO NOT work simply because when you return to a normal eating pattern your body will return to its earlier condition.)

    Instead, keep eating the same portion of meats, increase your intake of leafy vegetables and cut back significantly on the Rice Beans, Macaroni, Breadfruit, Cornbread, Potato Salad the starchy stuff.

    Also, and perhaps most importantly, you should try to break out of the common eating pattern of 3 big meals a day. Instead try to focus on 6 – 8 small, frequent meals throughout the day. This keeps your metabolism running at top speed and you will actually BURN MORE CALORIES by eating more regularly sweet deal right?


    Join a gym or health club. Also, invest in some proper workout attire to go along with your new lifestyle. Both of these actions will help you to stay committed, especially in the early weeks, as you now also have a financial interest in the new you.

    If it is your first time, be sure to seek the assistance of a trained professional at your chosen establishment. Do not be intimidated by the gym scene; the truth is that 90% of people in the gym are just as clueless as you are … even many of the big muscle guys!

    If you are a beginner you may want to spend some time on the cardio machines to get your body accustomed to its new way of life. However, do not get caught up in what I refer to as CARDIO PRISON.

    Cardio prison is when people equate going to the gym with walking / running on the treadmill, cross-trainer or stair-climber. Yes, all of these machines are useful in their own right; however including RESISTANCE TRAINING (free weights / dumbbells / weight machines) can significantly increase the extent and speed of your results.

    Typically you can have as good as, if not better, a workout in half of the time you spend on a cardio machine if you include some of the weight machines in your fitness program. Plus this way you can actually burn calories and lose weight 24/7 as opposed to only when you are sweating away on a boring treadmill for 1.5 hours … but I won’t get into all of that now.


    So, for a healthier and smaller you, it will help to:

    decrease the size of your meals
    increase the frequency of your meals (6-8 rather than 3)
    take advantage of the many buffet lunches island-wide today as they give you control over what and how much you eat
    cut back significantly on your carbohydrate intake
    get active daily walks / jogs, join a gym
    add some resistance training to your workout (ladies, no this will NOT bulk you up, don’t worry)
    try to avoid cardio prison
    drinks lots of water
    NO MORE sodas, juice drinks etc. These are like a sugar-drip into your body

    So, there you have it folks. You have just received a professional fitness consultation and managed to save about 300 bucks as well. Now, get out there and get crackin’!

    * Disclaimer: Always consult a doctor before starting any fitness regime or change of diet and eating pattern.

    Feel free to post any questions regarding any of the above or fitness in general and I will be happy to help if I can.

  2. Fast food for the kids has many on the same path well before their years. Same in the US processed food is terrible for you. Many are not sure what their eating what the effects will be in the long term.

  3. One problem is when we talk to these children and families in the doctors office, and want to refer them to a dietician at hospital, there is no available visit for months on hand, and insurance will not cover any referals if it is for weight loss. So how do these parents learn what is healthy diet ways to cut calories or carbs, when there are not enough dieticians at the hosptial and unable to afford private sessions in order to learn what is it good. It is not that simple, and many mistakes just like giving fruit, and then the parents will then give juice. Well they got the juice with the fruit, and they should have given water. Simple changes like this sometimes need to be advised to parents. But there need to be more available help. And fast food is more like monthly treat not a daily or weekly treat.

  4. Do you really need a survey to confirm that one third of Cayman(ians) are obese (fat)?

    Just look around you…

    As for diet, it’s not education or dietitians, its about being lazy, which also extends to why they don’t take exercise either.

  5. Kudos to government for actually doing something useful for a change.

    Minister Scotland’s analysis of the statistics as alarming is an understatement, but they are not surprising. This survey is proof positive that the population of the Cayman Islands (like many western societies) is profoundly unhealthy and the general belief people die prematurely more frequently here and the incidence of cancers and other deceases higher among us than other places is probably accurate.

    However, the smoking gun killing us as the lunatic fringe often vociferously assures us through various media isn’t childhood vaccinations, aerial mosquito spraying, the George Town hospital or the water, but our terribly unhealthy lifestyle.

  6. Reduce tax on healthy items, increase tax on unhealthy items.

    BMI tax anyone? Though I cannot imagine many of the MLAs going for that, it would halve many a salary!

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