The Ministry of Health and Wellness has embarked on a campaign to end the sale of the unhealthy drinks at the nation’s educational institutions.
Chief Nutritionist Lisa Hunt-Mitchell has discussed the proposed ban with school principals.
Declaring that St Lucia must pay greater attention to building a healthier nation, Hunt-Mitchell lamented that sweet drinks were having a disastrous effects, with rising incidence of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cavities and other illnesses.
“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 said, adding that St Lucia is not the first country to implement that policy.
Citing Trinidad and Tobago’s ban on soda and sweetened drinks at the start of the new school year in September, and Barbados’ plan to move in that direction, Hunt-Mitchell argued that St Lucia had nothing to lose.
“We want to encourage the children to drink more water, instead of juices or soft drinks,” she said.
The move has already received support from one school principal.
“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,” said Ella Tomas-John.
“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.”