PAHO Food & Nutrition Adviser Visits Bermuda

October 14, 2015

Dr. Audrey Morris, the Pan American Health Organization [PAHO] Food and Nutrition Advisor recently visited Bermuda to provide technical support in the development of a National Food and Nutrition Policy and Infant and Young Child Feeding [IYCF] Policy.

PAHO is the office of the World Health Organization [WHO] in the Region of the Americas and offers technical cooperation in health to member countries.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Seniors, and Environment, Dr. Morris liased with small groups of stakeholders such as Department of Health programme managers, Bermuda Hospitals Board maternity staff, pediatricians and obstetricians to enlist multi-sectoral input and assess the food and nutrition situation of Bermuda including:

  • Nutritional Status
  • Food Security including food accessibility and availability
  • Dietary Habits and
  • Breastfeeding practices.

From left to right: Cheryl Peek-Ball, Chief Medical Officer, Mellonie Furbert, Dr. Audrey Morris and the Minister of Health, Seniors and Environment, Jeanne Atherden

151014 PAHO Visit Photo

The Ministry’s development of the National Food and Nutrition policy is currently being aligned with both national strategies and international plans.

Among other nutrition objectives, the policy will address the rise of obesity/overweight in children and adults. Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood.

But in addition to increased future risks, obese children can experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and psychological effects.

PAHO has developed a plan to tackle obesity in children and adolescents and Dr. Morris said Bermuda is aiming to join other countries in halting the rise in obesity by 2025.

“The visit has been very successful, there is tremendous amount of interest in nutrition and breastfeeding policy. We are trying to ensure the nutritional needs of the people of Bermuda are met in a balanced way so everybody has access to safe food on a regular basis that will protect them from chronic non-communicable diseases,” Dr. Morris said.

The IYCF policy is being developed to guide the nutrition of children including breastfeeding and complimentary feeding [introduction to new foods such as fruits and cereals].

“More children can benefit from breastfeeding exclusively for six months as the optimal way for feeding a child. We need to improve the initiation rate and lengthen the time women are able to breastfeed. There is a link between breast feeding and obesity as children who are breast fed are less likely to be overweight,” Dr. Morris said.

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