Project Co-Leads: Joel Gittelsohn, PhD, MSc & Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, FACP, FTOS
According to recent reports, 64% of women and 50% of men are estimated to be overweight or obese in the Bahamas and the Caribbean region. Current estimates suggest that 19% of boys less than 20 years old and 33% of girls less than 20 years old in the Bahamas are overweight or obese.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported recently that obesity is a highly predictive risk factor for type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease as well as other major health problems.
As obesity and diabetes rates continue to rise in this region, the Bahamas Ministry of Social Services and Community Development (MOSSCD) and Health (MOH) partnered with the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins to work to develop a sustainable, national obesity prevention strategy in order to combat the epidemic.
The overarching goal of this initiative is to improve nutritional choices, physical activity and overall weight management by using a systems approach as a key component of the intervention strategy.
The GOPC team will work with the MOH, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Bahamas Ministry of Social Services and Community Development (MSSCD) to perform formative research and training of health providers as part of their obesity prevention and control work in order to:
- Assess the state of existing obesity prevention strategies and approaches
- Adapt existing materials and facilitate the development of new, enhanced obesity prevention materials based on formative research findings and through engagement with other key stakeholders
- Develop new health professional training curriculum on managing obesity throughout the life stages
- Evaluate, document and disseminate the work completed in the form of a project website, written reports and publications in peer-reviewed journals
Environmental and policy interventions will also be explored. The GOPC team will work to develop programs and policies that seek to aid in altering the food environment by increasing the access to and demand for healthy foods and beverages. The Bahamas has used the revision of its Social Safety Net Reform initiative to include obesity-related health care conditions and has received safety net program funding as part of an effort to address this problem.
The training will be interactive and delivered via print materials, text messaging and social media. The interactive components of the training will be developed in conjunction with: community workshops, storytelling, interactive media, communications materials and focus group activities which are part of the formative research portion of the Initiative.
The direct medical counseling will be provided by a cross-section of experts from the GOPC and the Bahamas and will be conducted through pilot-testing, process evaluations and Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits.
To find out more information about the Bahamas Initiative, please email the GOPC here.