Health Minister John Boyce says a strong policy response is needed to address the challenge of Non-Communicable Diseases (NDCs) as health education is not enough to spark the required change.
Boyce, in an address at the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Sub-regional Seminar on Tobacco and Trade on Tuesday ,made it clear that he was aware that taxation was not “a magic bullet”.
“As a Government, our role is to protect the health and well-being of citizens. Therefore, we must use whatever legal and policy measures are at our disposal to make it easier for people to choose a healthy snack, to eat in a smoke-free environment in a restaurant or for our children to have access to healthy meals in and around schools.”
The Health Minister welcomed the focus of the seminar on the application of taxation and the implications of trade policies as effective measures to reduce consumption patterns.
He noted that while the evaluation of Barbados’ experience with the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages was still ongoing, he believed that the imposition of the tax sent a strong signal to the population of Government’s willingness to take action to address the root causes of the obesity problem.
Boyce also said that the rising level of obesity in the school-aged population continued to be of great concern and the Ministry of Health was currently preparing a set of policy options to address the marketing of unhealthy foods to children while they were at school.
The Health Minister said in the case of Barbados, measures to be considered by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on NCDs and subsequently, by the full Cabinet, will include a ban on the sale and promotion of sugar-sweetened beverages on school premises.