by Larry Smith
The statistics are telling. Eleven per cent of Bahamian pre-schoolers are overweight or obese, together with almost 10 per cent of Grade 1 students, 18 per cent of Grade 6 students, and a quarter of Grade 10 students. In fact, surveys show that 70 per cent of Bahamians between the ages of 21 and 60 are overweight or obese.
As a direct result, chronic non-communicable diseases account for three quarters of all deaths in The Bahamas these days. The biggest contributors (40 per cent) are heart disease and diabetes. And obesity has also been also linked to psychosocial disorders and poor education results.
Education outcomes are closely connected to poverty in the Bahamas. While most youngsters eventually reach grade 12, about half of all public students leave school every year with only an attendance certificate. And one of the consequences of that is 30 per cent youth unemployment. It is also true that poorer and less educated folks are also more likely to be obese.
Conditional cash transfers - as they are known in the trade - are an attempt to break this vicious circle.