Olympic medallist Keshorn Walcott is expected to lead the "elite athletes"?campaign to sensitise children about the dangers of childhood obesity which could lead to diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. It is expected to get underway in February 2013. World Diabetes Day will be celebrated on Wednesday.
The project is being done in collaboration with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA, the Ministry of Education and the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee. Last Tuesday, Johns Hopkins professor, Paul Ladenson (Endocrinology) and Prof Emeritus Pediatric Endocrinology David Goldstein were in town for the Academy of Diabetes Clinicians of T&T (Business Meeting and Lecture)?at Hyatt Regency Hotel, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.
Interviewed on Thursday, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (T&TOC) Larry Romany said, "Keshorn is one of the athletes we would be using. He would be the most prominent figure. We are proud to be associated with Johns Hopkins. As part of the intervention, we are developing an elite athletes campaign using other athletes who were successful at the recent Olympic games in London.
"We want to put forward the message to help sensitise young people and parents about what needs to be done to prevent diabetes and obesity. All the athletes are pretty much on board in sensitising them about adopting healthy lifestyles."
Romany said Johns Hopkins had assisted in developing protocols to evaluate these diseases. "We went to the Ministry of Education. We want to assess what would happen to children exposed to high levels of obesity. We are looking at data collection. Important data would help develop the sporting landscape from the cradle to the womb. We felt there was the need for a timely intervention to alleviate childhood diabetes, high blood pressure and even low self-esteem."?
The work has begun in the South Western peninsula. Romany said they were looking at eight school districts. "We expect additional studies would come from it. Johns Hopkins would be providing the evaluation of data."
Asked about Johns Hopkins contribution, Ladenson said it would evaluate the data based on their wide knowledge and advise the T&TOC. "Whether it be the need for more physical education and participating in physical activity that could lead to healthier lifestyle changes.
We have considerations about height, weight and increased physical activity. They have a broad view of the mission but they want to improve the health of children with elite athletes programmes. We want to send more children to the Olympics."