CIREBA (Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association) is pleased to donate money to the Children's Health Task Force (TCTF) to help fight childhood obesity in the Cayman Islands.

Recent observations by the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) point to a looming crisis of obese children in the Cayman Islands. From the annual health screening on school entry level children and those in transition from lower to middle school, the HSA discovered that 22 per cent of school children are overweight and 14.8 percent were at risk of becoming overweight.

There was a significant increase in overweight and obesity (in children) between 1987 and 2005 in the Cayman Islands. In 1987, 18.8 percent of children between the ages of three and seven entering the school system were either overweight or obese. This figure rose to 45 percent in 2005.

President of CIREBA, Jeremy Hurst states "Several studies have found positive academic and other gains from implementing policies and practices that promote healthy nutrition and physical activity. Researchers are continually finding that students who are healthy and physically active are more likely to be motivated, attentive, and successful academically." He adds, "There is further evidence that people begin to acquire and establish health-related behaviors as children, and these patterns profoundly affect their chances of dying prematurely in adulthood which is why CIREBA is supporting this cause to make the Cayman Islands a healthier environment for future generations."

Children and adolescents who are overweight are more likely to be overweight or obese adults. Given that obesity in adults is associated with increased risks of premature death, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, osteoarthritis, and many other health problems, it is critical to prevent obesity and being overweight in childhood before these chronic health problems arise.

Dr. Sook Yin, Medical Director and Ministry Liaison of CHTF says "Up to now Cayman has no guidelines or Food Policy of what Canteens in schools here can serve or cannot serve. As more than 95% of young people are enrolled at schools and they eat at least 2 meals daily in the canteens, our Task Force is working with the Department of Education and the Ministries of Health and Education along with the Department of Children and Family Services to create a National Food Policy for School Canteens and set minimum standards for school meals for different age groups. Our long term goal is to show some viable statistics and results from this 3 year program that highlights the need for the Cayman Islands to have a program in place for all schools that encourage healthy lifestyle choices. It would be great to see this program on some level in all schools in Cayman one day."

Maureen Cubbon, Program Coordinator, CHTF states, "The donated money goes towards coordinating and synchronizing the nutritionists, exercise specialists, life skill teachers and the participating doctors in order to maximize participation in this pilot program. We are very grateful to CIREBA for their generous donation to the Children's Health Task Force Health4Youth Programme. Their support will further this pilot program for the coming two years and allow us to continue this important initiative towards the betterment of the youth of Cayman."

Childhood obesity in the Cayman Islands is a grave concern. Many community efforts have been made over the years to tackle this problem. For the first time a collaborative effort is being make to not only address this problem holistically and comprehensively with George Hicks High School (the partner pilot school), the long term goal is to take this program to a ministry level. The money donated by CIREBA also goes towards assisting the schools with resources around health and wellness since their funding is limited. Together everyone is striving to make a great impact for the future of Cayman.