Over 37% of local kids left primary school fat

| 09/07/2013

images_48.jpgCNS): According to statistics released by the public health department, 208 students (37.3%) moved from the primary to high school either overweight or obese last year. And while kids are growing in girth as well as knowledge while in school, a considerable number are entering the system with weight problems. More than one third of children who entered government primary schools in September 2012 did so carrying too much weight, officials revealed this week. Of the 530 students screened by public health practitioners at the start of the 2012/13 school year, 177 were either obese or overweight. Officials explained that children are screened at the start of school to identify possible weight problems with the goal of offering health programmes.

However, there are indications that the number of kids leaving school fat is surpassing the already hefty number entering overweight, which is a significant concern for health providers, education professionals, parents and ultimately the young people who are starting off their education with significant health issues. 

While being overweight seems to be the main problem, there is also a concern that on average around 7% of kids come to school underweight. Overall less than 60% of children in Cayman are coming to school with a healthy, normal weight for their age.

Officials said that they use Body Mass Index as a screening tool to identify possible weight problems for children and the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend its use to screen for overweight and obesity in children as young as two years old. 

“Body Mass Index (BMI) is useful to offer appropriate guidance and counselling to parents of overweight and obese children. Also the data is utilized in offering weight reduction programs,” public health officials stated.

The percentage of overweight children entering schools in the Cayman Islands during the period 2009-2012 remained relatively consistent. However, school year 2010-2011 showed a higher percentage of obese children (23.3%). 2010-2011 also had the lowest number of students who were underweight (4.9%). Again there has been an increase of obese children from 13.7% in 2011/12 to 17.4% in 2012/13.

The percentage of overweight children has been gradually increasing, and while there has been a decline of obese children, which may point to a healthier trend, Director of Public Health Dr Kiran Kumar notes that there is a pressing need to reduce the number of overweight children and to control obesity in school-entry with plans afoot for an awareness campaign.

Health experts have also warned that childhood obesityis a major public health issue because it leads to the non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, which have all been identified as the main health problems in local adults.

See tables below showing test results for school entry and pre-high school.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The obese should have to pay more for their health insurance.  I am tired of subsidising them and it would encourage them to stop being slobs.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is particularly sad if you consider the fact that usually, primary school kids would love nothing more than to run around outside all day… they exercise themselves usually! What does that mean when kids that age who are normally burning far more energy than they consume are coming out overweight. Is it the school lunches? Is it what the parents are feeding them at home? More likely than not, its a combinationof somewhere in between.

    As someone who did kindergarten-year 13 at the same school (Catholic), my classmates and I witnessed first hand the decline in food quality at the school over the years we were there. Especially once you progressed to the high school side. Champion House used to do the food catering and while they did not necessarily have the healthiest lunches, what they did have were balanced meals, large amounts of variety, and healthy options were certainly made available. Yes, patties and cheese rolls were for sale at lunch – but so was fresh fruit juice and a sandwich bar with fresh veggies and a variety of meats including chicken and turkey.

    Champion House left St. Ignatius somewhere around when I was either in year 9 or 10 and I never bought another meal at the school after that. They claimed that Champion House and the wonderful people that provided not only lunch, but fantastic conversation and a smiling face were replaced because their options were not healthy. Yet they replaced them with JLM who have done nothing but serve the most unappetizing and unappealing food I had seen in my entire academic career at St. Ignatius. Their food always appeared stale – sandwiches were often soggy, and prices were not cheap. Lunches were often recycled and reused the next day – yesterday's spaghetti and meat sauce turned into tomorrow's chilli and it was just appaling. 

    My parents only let my siblings and I buy lunch once a week, and we had a small allowance that allowed us to buy a couple afternoon snacks for the week as well. I have to say, I always looked forward to lunch when Champion House was there. Once they changed to JLM, I ate maybe 3 times before deciding once and for all that the food wasn't worth my money. 

    I hope that they can change something soon, because obviously the children of our island are in desperate need of some sort of an intervention. 

  3. The lone haranguer says:

    I guess all these teenage mothers and baby fathers are doing a rotten job, shocker.

  4. Anonymou says:

    wow….. lazy uninterested obese parents produce obese kids…….just wow……

  5. Anonymous says:

    Feed our future!

  6. WillYaListen! says:

    Who gave planning permission for the Fast Food outlet beside the school? Why?

    Always remember money comes before health anywhere in the world.

    • Anonymous says:

      And you just noticed this????

    • Anonymous says:



      There is no profit for the "health" care industry if the population is healthy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dominoes / Wendys — ALL introduced to our islands by POLITICIANS!!!

    • Fast food? says:

      There are no fast food joints on the Brac, Northside, and East End, so don't blame the venues, it is the children's parents and our poor practices period.

      Children need a healthy breakfast, not sugar bomb cereals or patties.  Kids are drinking JUICE when they should be brought up on WATER.  I stopped giving my child juice the minute I learned that our sugar diets are nothing but a death sentence for diabetes.

      The troubling thing is:  We are on second and third generation obesity and only with dedicated devotion to cutting carbs and sugars by making 75% or better of EVERY meal lean protein and lots of green vegetables, will we break the cycle.

      I have an idea….MOST of these children have "helpers" so have the nannies make up better meals and store them in tupperware for after school snacks.  I bet local kids never eat celery and peanut butter instead of rice & peas?  Our culture used to carb-load up for long work days, but the days of coconut water (sugar) rice (sugar) , breads (sugar), and fats (pork, goat, and turtle)…must go away.  Our lifestyles are sedentary now like the rest of the globe and we need to take small steps to fight this epidemic.

      This fight starts at home.  Parents educate yourself that "rice & peas" are not the answer.

  7. UH UH UH says:

    If Govt. would insist upon making laws that prevent fast food outlets selling all the junk they do to our underage children, and if parents will start serving a few salads and other healthy foods at home instead of ox tail etc. then maybe we will see a drastic drop in obesity in Cayman.

    Teachers also must be told to loose weight  or they too will have to pay the consequences for setting a bad example to their students. Go on line and read about the "CRAP" that is in these so called meals being served by these fast food places. Those delicious chicken nuggets which I too have at one time enjoyed because of the taste, am now totally anti anything meaty that these places serve. Like I said go on line and see for yourself what's in these items so beautifully displayed on bill boards and print media. JUST DO IT FOR YOUR KIDS!

    • Anonymous says:

      "…setting a bad example…"


      Some of our elected civic leaders are also guilty of setting a bad example when it comes to weight.


      In a Run Down skit a few years ago, Kurt was called Mr. Tubbits. Many other officials could also share the name.

      • Anonymous says:

        Until the day the the Governemnt has the political will to address the duty rate on more healthy choices this sadly will continue. Do anyone realize that healthy food choices cost about double to the fat, heart clogging foods. I know parents has a big roll to play in food selections but the cost allot of times makes this prohibitive. The cost of low sugar fruit juices cost more than a can of soda, chicken hich is duty free cost more than ground beef. When money is scarce and people are stressed food sometimes is the solution for some people. But then again if the Govenment reduce the duty and make the healthy foods duty free the food pirate suppliers will only make a larger profit SMH..

    • Anonymous says:

      Really?  Did you read your comment before you pressed "save"?

      "Teachers also must be told to loose weight  or they too will have to pay the consequences for setting a bad example to their students."

      How did this become the responsibility of teachers?  Again, pass the buck!  Take the pressure off parents, make the teachers have a consequence.

      Last time I checked teachers don't pack students lunch kits or tell them what to buy in the canteen!!

      Stop blaming teachers for everything!  Put the blame where it belongs—- Parents!!


    • Anonymous says:

      Typical attitude in Cayman – everything is always someone elses fault and of course, Government is somehow to blame.

      Nobody forces parents to feed their children fast food crap! It is their own choice and perhaps they are too lazy to cook a proper nutritional meal for themselves and their children. WTF is Government supposed to be doing about it? Shall we ban all the sodas, juices, candies, chips etc from the Supermarket because some people can't control their eating habits?