The Ministry of Health and Wellness is embarking on a campaign to discontinue the sale of soda pop, or soft drinks on school compounds.
The highly sweetened fizzy drink is known to have disastrous effects on health. Regular consumption of soda is linked to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, asthma, cavities among others.
On Nov. 23, Chief Nutritionist Lisa Hunt Mitchell hosted one of several meetings with school principals from Districts 5, 6 and 7 to discuss the best way to reduce the consumption of soda among the youth. She said the intention is not to place a hole in the pockets of the local manufacturers, but instead, to ensure a healthier nation.
“We are aware of the negative impacts of soft drinks, so the Ministry of Health is engaging school principals, so that they can be supportive in trying to curtail the sale of soft drinks at the schools. We want to encourage the children to drink more water, instead of juices or soft drinks. Sweetened beverages are bad for the health in general, but soft drinks have added ingredients such as caffeine, phosphoric acid, and colourings that are far worse. These ingredients have very negative effects on the health.”
Mitchell added that Saint Lucia isn’t the first to implement the policy.
“There are many countries that have actually banned the sale of soft drinks at schools. Barbados has done it, and Trinidad recently banned soft drinks and sweetened drinks from schools.”
The acting principal at the Plain View Combined School, Ella Tomas-John, supports the initiative.
“I think it should have been done a long time ago, so that by now we would have reduced on the number of behavioural problems that we experience,” she said. “It is important to protect the health of our children. There are children who are obese because they consume all this sugar and do not engage in physical activity. Most children today play with their iPads or their phones instead of engaging in physical activity.”
The fundamental aim of the Ministry of Health is to curb the detrimental health effects that foods high in sugar may have on future generations.