Editorial: We Haven't Tackled Obesity - And Now It's Proving Our Downfall

WHEN it comes to the fight against COVID-19, our past failings are coming back to haunt us.

In today’s Tribune, we report on findings that obesity increases the risk of COVID-19 deaths by almost half. As our former Minister of Health, Dr Duane Sands, pointed out, The Bahamas has been named the sixth most obese country in the world.

We know this, of course. We’ve long known this. Our diet isn’t the healthiest, our exercise routines aren’t always the strongest to balance out against what we eat. Beyond that, The Bahamas has a wide income disparity, and people struggling to get by have the diet they can afford – they’re eating to survive, and that’s not always the healthiest meals.

There has long been talk of how co-morbidities increase the risk from catching COVID-19, but this study pretty definitively reveals the extent of such risk.

It’s not as if we haven’t known obesity increases health risks already – it’s just that collectively we haven’t done enough to tackle it.

Last year, Dr Sands said more than 70 percent of the population is overweight. That’s more than two out of every three people in the country.

In the current conditions, it will be very difficult indeed for some to ensure the right diet – but there’s always a reason not to start, and it never helps to put it off until tomorrow.

Today, current Minister of Health Renward Wells will be at a press conference – so how about it, minister? What’s your plan to launch a national anti-obesity campaign? Ignoring the problem hasn’t made it go away, so lead the way, and see if a healthier nation can follow.

A not-so-daily dashboard

Speaking of the Ministry of Health, this week has seen the daily dashboards getting later and later. These, of course, provide details of the number of new cases and, unfortunately, updates on deaths.

At one point, we were told that they hadn’t been approved for release – which begs the question who is failing to give approval? Sometimes it isn't coming out until the next day.

We have no explanation for why there might be a delay in approval. We hope it’s not to prevent the information being communicated clearly to the public by the media.

Whatever the reason, it’s not good enough. The public needs to know where we are in the fight – and delays just make it look like the ministry is being overwhelmed in this battle.

Don't play the drug dealers' game

In today’s Tribune, you can read about a 67-year-old Swiss man guilty of importing $50,000 worth of cocaine who is being sent back to his country after being sentenced to time served, for the nine months he spent on remand.

Yesterday, readers may recall that we reported on a 73-year-old Spanish woman released for deportation after five months in custody, after smuggling 12 pounds of cocaine.

In both cases, Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes commented on the age of those appearing before him, urging the Spanish woman to exercise “a little more due diligence” and saying of the Swiss man that it “befuddled” him why senior citizens were willing to take trips to participate in illicit activities.

We would contrast their short time in custody with the amount of time some Bahamians end up spending in prison after being caught with only a small amount of marijuana.

Perhaps the age of these drug mules might be one of the reasons they are chosen so they get a lighter treatment? And shouldn’t we have reciprocal agreements in place with nations to ensure that when people do break the laws so flagrantly they can be deported back to their home nation to serve the rest of their sentence there?

The handlers of drug mules are using senior citizens just so they can play on our courts’ sympathies – we should find ways to ensure we’re not playing their game.


Clamshell 3 weeks, 2 days ago

A fat lot of good it would do to beef about this story, but there is no point in sugar-coating things — we just have to do butter ... er, better.


thps 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Why tackle obesity, we busy tacklin exercise. nobody got time fa dat.


joeblow 3 weeks, 2 days ago

... we haven't tackled corruption, crime, education, illegal immigration, single parent homes, the lack of independence of the judiciary, diversification of the economy etc either. Covid is NOT our most pressing national issue!!


rodentos 3 weeks, 2 days ago

close permanently Wendys, KFC, Pizzahut, Burgerking etc. Bahamias should be prohibited eating that stuff before any other covid19 related prohibitions.


mandela 3 weeks, 2 days ago

If obesity doesn't kill us, waiting for healthy food to become affordable will.


moncurcool 3 weeks, 2 days ago

How is it 2 non nationals on separate occasions bring drugs into the country and gets less than 1 year? If a Bahamian does it they will spend eternity in jail? Something is wrong in our judiciary and needs to be fixed.


SP 3 weeks, 1 day ago

I though I was the only person that noticed the huge disparity of justice in our country. A Bahamian is lynched compared to a slap on the wrist for a foreigner that commits the same crime.

To put things in some perspective, let's not forget they also rewarded illegal Haitians with a years income if caught and deported!


Honestman 3 weeks, 2 days ago

With all the wealth registered here in the Bahamas, no one should go hungry and everyone should have easy access to affordable and healthy food. Corrupt politicians who, since independence have been happy to keep the masses uneducated and impoverished, are responsible for the Nation's obesity crisis.


quietone 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Most of you have made some good points... but when it comes to eating healthy foods, seems that Bahamians are the most difficult people on earth to follow proper eating habits, etc... and this is very sad! I am in my 80's and many years ago, we mostly used to eat much of the fruits and vegetables we grow in our own yards and we were way healthier than many are these days!


rodentos 3 weeks, 1 day ago

there is a fundamental problem with food supply in the Bahamas. They only allow importation from very few countries (of course US is on the list). So you can't get may things here because they are not allowed to be imported. And of course most of the food comes from US, garbage food unfortunately. They need to open food market in the Bahamas so other food culture can grow up. People will start opening their small businesses with food from somewhere in South America, Asia and so on... finally the customer will decide but without competition this is not going to happen! You will continue eating unhealthy US junk food


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