Author Affiliation, Ana.
Caribbean Childhoods From Research to Action Journal of the Children's Issues Coalition
Date of Publication
Reviews the magnitude of the problem and risk factors associated with four important nutritional conditions in Jamaican children birth to 8 years: under- and over-nutrition, low birth weight and iron deficiency anaemia. Undernutrition rates have fallen significantly over the past few years, but the rise in over-nutrition and persistent pockets of undernutrition are public health concerns. The prevalence of stunting among children under 5 years decreased from 9.0 per cent in 1992 to 4.2 per cent in 2000. In 1992, 2.1 per cent of children under 5 years were overweight and this increased to 5.0 per cent in 2001. Undernutrition of children under 5 years is well-monitored through the existing primary health care system. There is a dearth of information on the nutritional status of 5-7-year-olds, as pre-school and school-aged children are not systemically screened. Approximately 10 per cent of births in Jamaica are of low weight (<2500 g). National data are not available for iron deficiency but small studies suggest that this is a continuing concern. Recommendations to improve the nutritional status of Jamaican children include the development of a national nutrition policy, and a comprehensive surveillance system that includes nutritional screening of older children through the education system and the development of screening programmes for anaemia. A review of the operations of existing Nutrition Clinics has also been recommended. A comprehensive surveillance system will not only monitor nutritional status of the target population but will also obtain information that can guide decisions on how best to effect change and improve nutritional health through a combination of preventative and rehabilitative programmes.....