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The Heart Foundation of Jamaica calls for tax on sugar-sweetened beverages during Heart Month

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ), a member of the World Heart Federation, has joined several other countries in celebrating Heart Month this February. In line with this year’s theme of Healthy Nutrition: Know Your Labels, HFJ has been focusing on the marketing of unhealthy products to children in Jamaica, and pushing for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

Speaking at a JIS Think Tank on Wednesday, HFJ Executive Director Deborah Chen explained that children are being targeted in advertising campaigns that are geared towards the purchase of food with little or no nutritional value.

“If you pay attention to prime time television and other media, you would see that there are many ads targeting our young children. The sugary, sweetened beverage is of particular concern, bearing in mind that added sugars have no nutritional benefit, so you may be getting the calories but not getting anything nutritious from them,” she explained.

Chen pointed out that the obesity situation in Jamaica, which she said is largely due to unhealthy nutrition, is of particular concern as it is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). She added that the rate of childhood obesity in Jamaica has increased, and it is now at a high of 30 per cent. The HFJ executive director, however, commended the steps being taken by the Government to address childhood obesity, and welcomed the collaboration between the ministries of health and education on the School Nutrition Policy.

Heart Month aims to increase awareness of heart disease in Jamaica. The activities for the month are being coordinated by the Heart Foundation of Jamaica and include a medical symposium on February 27, CPR day on February 24, screening at several health centres and outdoor broadcasts.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s leading cause of deaths from non-communicable diseases. Each year, CVD is responsible for 31% or 17.5 million of premature deaths.

Follow this month’s events using the hashtag #HeartMonth, and follow the Heart Foundation of Jamaica on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


HFJ Heart Month campaign in the media:

Read food labels for nutritional information, please! (Jamaica Observer)

‘There are many ads with unhealthy products targeting young children’ (Jamaica Observer)

Consumers Encouraged to Check Labels before Purchasing Food (Jamaica Information Service)


More pictures from Jamaica Heart Month: