Improving household nutrition security and public health in the CARICOM
Non-communicable diseases and food insecurity are significant problems that threaten human and economic development in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Deaths from non-communicable diseases are the highest in the Americas, while the economic cost ranges from 1.4 to 8% of the region’s gross domestic product. The health of CARICOM populations is intrinsically tied to diets, as seen by the region’s startlingly high rates of obesity, overweight, and other nutrition-related risk factors.
The healthiness of local diets is ultimately determined by the food system, characterized by the local production capacity, the availability of and access to healthy foods, and market characteristics that include the importation and proliferation of unhealthy processed foods. Since 2007, with the Jagdeo Initiative and the Port of Spain Declaration, there has been strong interest and commitment by CARICOM heads of government to improve the region’s food system to address food security and to improve health through nutritious diets. Despite these efforts, implementation of national policies and action plans for enhanced food and nutrition security remains challenging and incomplete.
Building on these political commitments, this project engages strong research institutions in the region to demonstrate how integrated agricultural and public health innovations, implemented through community initiatives and public policy interventions, can provide an effective approach to address the high burden of non-communicable diseases in the Caribbean.
This project will focus on three countries (St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Jamaica) and will investigate the structural, policy, and behavioural conditions that drive food production and consumption. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, researchers will identify the best ways, including gender sensitive approaches, for aligning multi-sectoral policies to enhance food production, distribution, and accessibility. Finally, it will design and test scalable multi-sectoral interventions to address agriculture, food security, nutrition, and health priorities through different entry points, including school meal programs and school environments.