Health Ministry prioritises student wellness with National School Move Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Some 2,000 primary and high school students  converged at Manchester High School for the observance of National School Moves Day, a focus on promoting physical activity and healthy living among school-aged children.

School Moves Day, a collaborative effort between the ministries of Health and Wellness; and Education and Youth, inspires the prioritisation of physical activity and its importance in the overall health, well-being and performance of the student population.

The observance also emphasises the importance of stakeholder and community support in promoting healthy lifestyles among students.

“We want to show students all across Jamaica how physical activity and healthy eating can be incorporated into everyday life, especially in light of the data which shows that a half of the student population aged 15 years and over is overweight”, said Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton.

Research carried out for the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey III (2016/17) found 28.6% prevalence of obesity among Jamaicans 15 years and older.

It also found that sugar-sweetened beverages were consumed one time per day or more frequently by 32.6% of Jamaicans 15 years and older.

“Childhood obesity, with its serious and enduring health implications, remains a prevalent concern, as it tends to persist from the adolescent years into adulthood,” the Minister continued.

According to the Jamaica Global School-based Student Health Survey 2017 Fact Sheet, a significant portion of school-aged children (13-15 years old) lead sedentary lifestyles, with 56.4% spending three or more hours daily in sedentary activities. On the contrary, only 23.2% engage in the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

Meanwhile, School Moves Day 2024 included an obstacle course race, physical activity challenges, food samplings, mass workout, dance competition and Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements. It also afforded an opportunity for students, educators, and parents to engage with informative displays promoting healthy lifestyles, nutrition, and disease prevention..Additionally, a selection of primary and high schools from the Ministry of Education & Youth’s Region 5 and other areas were invited to showcase their physical activity initiatives and live demonstrations.

Physical activity is linked positively with cognitive function and academic performance, including memory and executive functioning. Other benefits include improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, bone health, and mental well-being.