Tackling rising obesity rates in the Caribbean islands and exploring the foodscapes of Kingston, Jamaica
IGDC Co-Director Professor Henrice Altink attended the first workshop of a GCRF-funded project led by Dr Cornelia Guell (University of Exeter), which examines the ways in which Caribbean cities impact on their populations’ food practices, opportunities and in turn their health.
The workshop was held at the University of the West Indies (Jamaica, 26-28 June) and brought together research expertise in history, epidemiology, global health, medical anthropology and economics from the UK and Jamaica and various local stakeholders, including the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, the Mona Geo-informatics Institute, and the Urban Development Corporation.
The research project particularly tries to understand the underlying mechanisms that have led to both unhealthy spaces (e.g. fast food-dense neighbourhoods) or healthy spaces (e.g. urban gardens) in the city of Kingston (Jamaica) from 1945 until the present and seeks to create a digital map to show the concurrent growth of unhealth spaces and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The workshop used the ‘Q-sort’ method to gain a sense of the priorities of the stakeholders in relation to the research project. This method and the discussion following showed that stakeholders see real benefit in taking a long-term perspective to explore the impact of the growth of unhealthy spaces on nutrition-related NCDs.
As Caribbean islands have some of the highest obesity rates in the world, the digital map resulting from this project can act as a powerful public awareness raising tool. As part of the workshop, the research team, including three local research assistants, explored Kingston’s foodscape. It visited, amongst others, Coronation Market, cook shops in Trench Town, an uptown foodhall. And of course, it also tasted some of Jamaica’s delicacies, including the most amazing ackee tacos.