Photo courtesy: Medical News Today

Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 19, 2017 (SKNIS): The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has in place a 6-point policy package on healthier food environments, which provides guidelines to encourage healthier lifestyles in the region, says Executive Director of CARPHA, Dr. C. James Hospedales, during the April 18th edition of “Working for You.”

Dr. Hospedales explained that the 6-point policy package on healthier food environments is a comprehensive, evidence, informed set of policies that has been validated internationally and that the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development has taken on board as being something to focus on.

The first is mandatory nutritional labelling of food processed in the region intended for consumption “so, people will know if a food is high in salt, sugar, fat and overall calories,” he said.

The second is standards and guidelines for the schools to have healthier diets.

The third is reducing the bombardment of marketing to children. “The amount of bombardment is unethical,” said the director.

The fourth is product reformulation to work with manufacturers to reduce the levels of harmful ingredients such as salt, fat, sugar and overall calorie levels.

The fifth is around trade measures and fiscal measures.

“Fiscal means like taxing sugary beverages such as Barbados and other countries have done,” he explained. “Trade measures would be to use the trading policy regime. We have to indicate to the outside partners that we are trying to have healthier children and we would like you to adhere to these conditions when you are supplying us things. There is a procedure for doing that. The office of trade negotiation would be the one to lead on that.”

The sixth of the pillars of the 6-point policy package is food chain incentives particularly for fruits and vegetables.

“CARDI, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, has the lead to see how we can look at our agriculture policy and other things,” said the director. “We are looking to improve access especially for the vulnerable population.”

The CARPHA director noted that the Council for Trade and Economic Development of CARICOM has taken the policy on board.

“We will have quite a big joint meeting between the health ministers of the region and the trade and economic ministers in July to look at the subject in particular,” said Dr. Hospedales.