The Healthy Caribbean Coalition

February 4th - March 10th 2016


HCC Call to Action on SSB Taxation in the Caribbean

HCC Call to Action on SSB Taxation in the Caribbean
The recent announcement by the British government of the intention to impose a tax on sugar - sweetened beverages following the imposition of a similar tax in two Caribbean countries, Barbados and Dominica in 2015, is a potentially major advance in efforts globally aimed at addressing the epidemic of childhood and adult obesity.

The relation between excessive consumption of sugar and obesity is recognised, as is the need to reduce sugar intake and chronic diseases (NCDs) which cause much premature sickness and death and presents a significant economic burden.

Several steps are required to reduce the epidemic of obesity in children and adults; including implementation of comprehensive programmes that promote the intake of healthy foods and reduce the intake of unhealthy foods and sugar-sweetened beverages; promotion of heathy school environments, health and nutrition literacy and physical activity among children, and the creation of an enabling environment nationally, that encourages and facilitates physical activity. 

All sectors of society have roles and responsibilities in reducing the epidemic of obesity. The implementation of an effective tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is one recommended action of government.

The HCC applauds Caribbean governments for their recognition of the harmful effects of childhood and adult obesity and commends them on the national, regional and global plans they have endorsed aimed at addressing this epidemic.

We now call on governments of CARICOM to provide further leadership in the reduction of obesity by enacting legislation that produces an effective tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

UK Chancellor George Osborne Announces Sugar Tax on Soft Drinks Industry

George Osborne announces sugar tax
Independent UK - George Osborne has announced a sugar tax on the soft drinks industry as part of the 2016 Budget. 
Sugar Tax
Soft drinks manufacturers will be taxed according to the volume of the sugar-sweetened drinks they produce or import. 

Drinks will fall into two bands: one for total sugar content above 5g per 100ml, and a second, higher band for the most sugary drinks with more than 8g per 100ml.

The tax will come into force in two year's time in order to give companies time to change the ingredients of their products
The measure will raise an estimated £520million a year, and will be spent on doubling funding for sport in primary schools. Secondary schools will meanwhile be encouraged to offer more sport as part of longer school days. 

A selection of press coverage:
  • The Diabetes Community Responds to the Sugar Tax read more
  • NCD FREE - UK set out landmark 'Sugar Levy' read more
  • Sugar tax: How it will work? read more
  • Budget 2016: UK Chancellor George Osborne Announces Sugar Tax on Soft Drinks Industry read more
  • Jamie Oliver on sugar tax: 'A big moment in child health' read more
  • Why is sugar bad for you and is a tax enough? read more
  • Sugar tax: financially regressive but progressive for health? read more
  • Sugar tax on its own will fail to combat childhood obesity, says Government's own health department read more
  • The sugar tax backlash: Osborne's new levy could force up price of diet drinks and even bottles of water, say critics read more
  • Sugar tax - will it unintentionally penalise diabetics? read more

Pro Health Suriname HCC’s Newest Member Working to Change Workplace Attitudes Towards Sugar Sweetened Beverages

Karin Spong, MSc
HCC welcomes its newest member, Pro Health, based in Suriname. Pro Health was founded in 1992, by three female Public Health doctors. Current director is Karin Spong, MSc.  (Ian pls use photo of Karin in addition to some from the intervention). It is Pro Health's mission to improve health in general, and that of underprivileged groups in particular. Pro Health wishes to strengthen communities and initiate or support partnerships between communities and first line health institutions.
Pro Health works on the prevention of Non Communicable Diseases (via a healthy lifestyle program and policy advocacy); Sexual Reproductive Health issues (HIV/AIDS and Teen pregnancy), and waste. 

One of Pro Health’s current initiatives aims to influence diet and nutrition related attitudes and behaviours in the private sector.  A local small business reached out to the organisation to assist with educating employees about healthy food choices. The team at Pro Health first undertook a baseline(whereby collaborating lab  Health Control conducted tests on cholesterol, blood sugar levels and fat percentages) and asked the staff to write food diaries for 2 weeks. The first intervention, completed this week, focussed on consumption of sugary drinks.
Pro Health Suriname HCC’s Newest Member Working to Change Workplace Attitudes Towards Sugar Sweetened Beverages
The staff were shown a display of the most popular drinks and the levels of sugar they contained using sugar cubes per glass. The group was then asked what they thought was the recommended daily sugar intake and they guessed 15-20 sugar cubes. They were shocked to find out that the recommendation was 5 sugar cubes or 25g (WHO) and that one commonly consumed fruit drink alone exceeded the daily limit. They then discussed health statistics in Suriname and shared examples of their own health challenges.  The group was asked to keep drinking diaries for the next few weeks during which time Pro Health will follow up with various supportive educational materials and activities.  Importantly, Pro Health in partnership with the employer, sought to give the employees practical tools to assist with the recommended behaviour change such as: encouraging substituting sweet drinks with mildly sweetened tea provided by the company; setting aside the money they would have used to purchase the sugary drinks; and reducing daily consumption of sweetened drinks (e.g. if 2 drinks generally consumed, reduce to 1 drink)). Pro Health made it clear that the strategy was not to cut down on sugar completely but rather to reduce sugar intake.  Pro Health will be evaluating the impact of this intervention. 
The work of Pro Health demonstrates the power of civil society to influence behaviours and change social norms in communities and workplaces. Measurable successes demonstrated through small pilot initiatives such as this can be used as the evidence to convince stakeholders such as the private sector and public sector to invest in scaling up.  For more information on this project please contact Karin Spong at Pro Health. 

Study Shows Breakthrough in Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes

Study Shows Breakthrough in Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes can come off medication and maintain non-diabetic blood sugar levels through diet and exercise, according to the landmark Barbados Diabetes Reversal Study. This ground-breaking finding means that it is possible for many to put their diabetes into remission.

In order to achieve these results, diabetics need to lose a substantial amount of weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

During the study, 25 participants with type 2 diabetes, 22 of whom were on medication for blood glucose control, were put on an eight-week low calorie liquid diet and their diabetic medication was stopped.   They were then given support to enjoy a healthy diet and increased physical activity. After the eight weeks, 15 participants (60%) reduced their blood sugar to non-diabetic levels.  Those who had hypertension were able to lower, or even stop, blood pressure medication as an added benefit. Read more

Launch of the PAHO Nutrient Profile Model

Virtual session
March 23, 2016, 9:00 – 9:45 am (Washington) join the webinar here.
World Health Organisation
The Plan of Action for the Prevention of Obesity in Children and Adolescents, approved in 2014, mandates that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) provide evidence-based information for the development of policies and regulations, and regional guidelines for foods and beverages sold in schools.
As part of the implementation of this Plan, PAHO/WHO has convened an Expert Consultation Group to review the evidence and define the nutrients and cut-off criteria for the PAHO Nutrient Profile Model. The Model is a tool to classify specific food products according its nutritional composition, with the objective to promote a healthy diet and prevent obesity and noncommunicable diseases. The objective of this virtual session is to present the PAHO Nutrient Profile Model, including its development process, its scientific basis and its importance in the development and implementation of policies and programs to promote a healthy diet.
The webinar programme can be found here. The Nutrient Profile Model here.

Cancer Prevention Recommendations

Cancer Prevention Recommendations
World Cancer Research Fund International is the world’s leading authority on cancer prevention research related to diet, weight and physical activity.
Watch the video here.

Deadly Smoke - Give Graphic Reminder that Smoking Kills

Deadly Smoke - Give Graphic Reminder that Smoking Kills
If regional health official Dr Godfrey Xuereb had his way graphic warnings of the dangers of smoking would be displayed prominently on tobacco packaging.

The Caribbean Programme Coordinator at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) this morning said that tobacco was deadly, hence the reason the global health organization and the Caribbean Community had recommended that countries legislate the placing of visual warnings on tobacco packaging so consumers would know they were buying a product that kills. Read more

Cancer Support Services

Special Benefit Concert – Hymms My Mother Taught Me Sunday May 8th

Youth Anti-Tobacco Poster Competition 2016

Theme: The Fight Against Big Tobacco

Jamaica Cancer Society in association with Ministry of Health, Jamaica National Building Society, Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control, National Secondary Schools' Council and National Council On Drug Abuse presents Youth Ant-Tobacco Poster Competition 2016.

The Competition is open to students 14-18 years old

Read more
Heart & Stroke Foundation of Barbados Latest
In 25 Years...
The Heart & Stroke Foundation has created a time capsule. This coincides with the 50th Anniversary of  Barbados' Independence.

Meet Andy - The Fruitman
Many call him "Ras", but we finally caught up with Andy. Andy practically visits the Heart & Stroke everyday.

Read more from the Heart & Stroke Foundation newsletter here.
Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre
Please Follow Us and Our Members on Social Media
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NCD Alliance Newsletter
  • Access to medicines: NCDA contribution to high-level panel
  • NCDA latest webinar available online
  • 2016 World Oral Health Day: #ItAllStartsHere
  • Explore our new website
  • SSB taxes in Mexico
  • PAHO Nutrient Profile Model
  • World TB Day: Unite to end TB
Read more
HCC News Roundup Archive - If you have missed any of our News Roundups you can view previous Roundups on our News Roundup Archive webpage here.
The HCC is a regional network of Caribbean health NGOs and civil society organizations with the remit to combat chronic diseases (NCDs) and their associated risk factors and conditions. Our membership presently consists of more than 50 Caribbean-based health NGOs and over 55 not-for-profit organisations and, in excess of 200 individual members based in the Caribbean and across the globe.

To join the HCC email us at
The work of HCC would not be possible without core funding from Sagicor Life Inc
Sagicor Life Inc.
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