Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 19th 2017 Contents B5
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
the heart of T&T's
During his tenure as Minister
of Health from 2011 to 2015,
Dr Fuad Khan campaigned vo-
ciferously against obesity and
non-communicable diseases in
Trinidad and Tobago. Two years
after leaving of ice, he still sees
it as a big problem. Only last
year he incurred the ire of many
when during an interview he
said, "women in this country are
getting too fat, at one time we
had very nice women in Carni-
val... now...its only obese women
walking all over the place". Dr.
Khan still stands by those com-
ments and his concern about
obesity remains, paramount.
"The country has an ongoing,
worsening obesity epidemic.
And as a result of the obesity
epidemic we have a non-commu-
nicable disease epidemic. So, the
obesity causes the non-communi-
cable diseases, which causes the
complications of high blood pres-
sure, diabetes, etc..." He said.
But the doctor, who has been
practicing for the last 35 years, is
not the only one saying there is
an obesity problem in this coun-
try. The latest PAHO/WHO report
this year on the issue, shows that
almost half the population of all
countries in the Caribbean and
Latin America is overweight and
Back in May of 2016, present
Minister of Health Terrance Dey-
alsingh revealed that obesity was
"crushing the country's health
sector, social services sector and
was to be viewed as a national
But what is the root cause of
obesity in this country? Dr Khan
said Trinidadians and Tobago-
nians have become addicted to
food and eating.
"It's food addiction. Believe it
or not, it's worse than cocaine.
People here are food addicted.
And the more they eat the fast
food and less cooking at home,
the more MSG they get in their
system, more salt they get in
their system, the more sugar
and oils...when that combina-
tion there mix you will become
emotionally, physically addicted
to the food. So, you want that
food more and more. Why you
think they have such long lines
by those chicken places? They
loaded with MSG and chemi-
cals. People are poisoning their
systems. They have a war on
drugs and cocaine and heroin,
they should have a war on the
stimulants and the addictive sub-
stances in food."
He added that this popula-
tion is also addicted to bread,
bake, sada, doubles and roti....
all items made with flour. He
believes this addiction to flour is
also contributing to citizens' ex-
panding waist lines.
Women, drinking more alcohol,
more obese than men
The food addiction problem is
not the only area of concern for
Dr Khan. He said a recent study
published in the New England
Journal of Medicine shows an
increase in the obesity epidemic
worldwide, with girls and women
more obese than men.
"It's basically a dietary prob-
lem, throughout the world it has
been shown that girls, women
are becoming fatter than men.
Children are becoming grossly
overweight and obese because
the parents are feeding them the
junk food that they ask for".
The PAHO/WHO report pub-
lished in January, says obesity
is on the increase particularly
among women and children in
Even more troubling for the
former Health Minister is the
increasing alcohol consumption
by women, which he said plays
a large part in the food addiction
and obesity epidemic.
"Women are drinking more
than men, they're drinking a lot.
They have to cut down alcohol.
Alcohol has a lot of calories in
it. What alcohol also does ,it
stimulates your gastric juices and
makes you eat junk. You go look
for the doubles, you go look for
the hamburger, you go look for
the fried chicken it stimulates
that need. So, when you have the
alcohol and then eat, you ended
up with a concoction for weight
A lifestyle change is needed
So just what can be done? For
Dr Khan, it's not only exercise
but a lifestyle change.
He said four simple measures
can go a long way in ending the
food addiction and obesity in
this country. These are:
Read labels - see what food
contains, the number of calories
Cook at home, eat healthy -
avoid constantly eating out and
cook food at home. This helps to
control what you eat, ensuring
its healthier and cheaper
Take time to eat - Don't rush
when you are eating, take time,
and chew your food, eating too
fast will cause you to feel hungry
Meditate before you eat - Think
about what you are going to put
in your body and the impact it
will have on your health
The Ministry of Health has
been playing its part in healthy
eating with its Nutrition and Me-
tabolism Division. The division
promotes and demonstrates how
to prepare food to meet a per-
son's nutritional needs.
Despite all this, Dr Khan was
not too optimistic citizens are
taking advice when it comes to
eating and obesity.
"It's all talk. People have be-
come lazy, mentally lazy...No-
body is taking it on."
What is food
Food Addiction is when highly
palatable foods trigger feel good
brain chemicals such as dopa-
mine. Once someone experi-
ences the pleasure from eating
food, they quickly feel the need
to eat again and again, even if
they are not hungry.
Signs of food
• Eating more than planned
• Keeping eating, specific
foods, even when not hungry
• Eat to the point of feeling ill
• Go out of your way to obtain
How can food
Speak with your doctor or a
health care professional for ways
to treat food addiction and for
access to a healthy eating plan.
Dr Khan: "Its worse than cocaine addiction"
Dr Fuad Khan...the former
Health Minister showing how he
stays in shape.
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