The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) launched its obesity prevention mass media campaign today (Friday, November 17, 2017) at the Spanish Court Hotel. The campaign, dubbed, “Are you drinking yourself sick?” aims to encourage Jamaicans to reduce the amount of added sugar in their diets. According to the HFJ, this public education campaign shows the journey of a busy working mother, Rosie, as she consumes sugary drinks throughout the day. The media campaign shows that excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) can lead to obesity. “To say we are pleased to be launching this campaign in Jamaica is indeed an understatement as our vision at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) is to help Jamaicans to have a longer and better quality of life. One way that we can live a healthier lifestyle is by reducing the amount of sugar we consume,” said Deborah Chen, Executive Director.

This campaign is also supported by The Ministry of Health, led by Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Honourable Christopher Tufton and the Jamaica Moves programme. According to Minister Tufton, “a campaign such as this is consistent with what we are trying to achieve as a Ministry. I am happy for this national dialogue with other stakeholders where we can discuss curtailing the high level of obesity in Jamaica. This issue has long-term negative impact not only on the health system, but the economy. The extent to which consumption of certain items, particularly sugary drinks, will negatively affect persons, also has to be a consideration of those who make these products. We have an obligation to the greater good of society”. Technical assistance in the development of this campaign was provided by Vital Strategies, an international NGO.

The obesity situation in Jamaica calls for coordinated interventions by Government, Civil Society and International Development Partners. According to the Pan American Health Organization, 78% of all deaths (nearly 4 in 5) in Jamaica are caused by Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). According to the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey (2008), nearly two-thirds (64.7%) of adult women in Jamaica are overweight and obese, compared to 38.2% of men. Excess sugar consumption is a major cause of obesity and its related diseases, as excessive sugar intake causes increased risk of diabetes, liver and kidney damage, heart disease, and some cancers.

A Jamaica investment case for the prevention and control of NCDs, recently developed in conjunction with WHO and UNDP, showed that Jamaica’s economy is projected to lose over 77.1 billion JMD over the next 15 years (2017 –2032) in terms of direct (treatment costs) and indirect costs (lost productivity) due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes complications alone. The Global School Health Survey (2010) revealed that 72.5% of adolescents aged 13 – 15 years old drink carbonated soft drinks one or more times per day. Drinking these amounts of sugary drinks increases their odds for being overweight by 50%. Based on these realities, the Heart Foundation of Jamaica and the Ministry of Health are accelerating efforts to help Jamaicans recognize the harm in sugary drinks.

Persons are being encouraged to follow the @heartfoundationja, @themohgovjm and @jamaica_moves to learn more about how they can reduce added sugar in their diets. Also, persons can share via social media using the hashtags #AreYouDrinkingYourselfSick and #LessSugarMoreLife to support the campaign.
This campaign was inspired in the “My Journey- What sugary drinks did to me?”; campaign, and reproduced with permission from the South Africa Healthy Living Alliance, HEALA.


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Mass Media Anti-Obesity Campaign To Warn Jamaicans About The Harms Of Sugary Drinks

Campaign Backgrounder Jamaica Obesity Prevention Campaign –“Are Your Children Drinking Themselves Sick?”