Jamaicans want action from Government to implement policies to reduce sugary drinks – New Health Survey

Jamaicans want action from Government to implement policies to reduce sugary drinks – New Health Survey

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) and the Ministry of Health, Jamaica Moves, with technical support from global health organization Vital Strategies, released results from a new obesity prevention public opinion survey today (March 7, 2018) at the Spanish Court Hotel.  The survey which was conducted in November 2017, shows there is overwhelming support for policies and government action to curb obesity. 

The 2017 obesity prevention public opinion survey sought to assess Jamaicans’ views on nutrition and obesity.  The survey, which was conducted among 1,430 adults ages 18-55 years, measured knowledge, attitudes, support for government action, concerns over sugary drinks, consumption patterns and recall of messages about sugary drinks.

This survey forms the baseline for the Heart Foundation of Jamaica’s Global Health Advocacy Project.  The information gathered is critical to gauging the public’s perception on sugary drinks which can have severe health consequences for adults and children.   

“These results show that Jamaicans have handed the Government a clear mandate to act quickly and decisively to implement and enforce policies to address our obesity crisis,” said Mrs. Deborah Chen, Executive Director of the Heart Foundation Jamaica.  Mrs. Chen further highlighted that “sugary drinks are the main contributor to sugar intake in Jamaica and that most sugary drinks have no nutritional value.  The “empty” calories from sugary drinks cannot be compared to the nutritious calories of other foods.”

Strong support for government action

The survey found that the overwhelming majority of Jamaicans (nine in ten) agree that it is important for the Government to be involved in helping to solve the problem of obesity in the country (92%) and that they take quick action to implement policies to do so (90%).  Over two-thirds (72%) would also support Government action to pass and enforce polices that discourage consumption of sugary drinks.  Approximately two-thirds (64%) support a tax on sugary drinks. This public support increases to 78% of adults in support of the sugary drinks tax if part of the revenue generated was spent in reducing obesity among children.  

Concern about the health effects of sugary drinks

The survey also revealed that almost 80% of parents (of children under 16) are concerned about the effects of sugary drinks on their children’s health. More than 60% of adults are concerned about the effects of sugary drinks on their own health. 

Our children are drinking themselves sick

The obesity prevention public opinion survey also found that 51% of children who have sugary drinks multiple times daily, consume three to five servings or more.  The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines stipulate that children two to eighteen years old, should have less than six teaspoons of sugar daily.  Deborah Chen believes “these children are consuming many times their recommended daily sugar allowance by having beverages such as box drinks and bag juices several times a day.  They are drinking themselves sick!”


The Heart Foundation of Jamaica is in full support of the plans by the Ministries of Education and Health for the implementation of a school nutrition policy in the 2018/19 academic year, aimed at promoting a healthier lifestyle among students.


About the Heart Foundation of Jamaica

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) was formed, as a non-governmental organization (NGO), in 1971. The Foundation is a member of the InterAmerican Heart Foundation, the Framework Convention Alliance, the Healthy Caribbean Coalition and the World Heart Federation and is involved in prevention programmes for cardiovascular disease.  In September 2018, the Heart Foundation of Jamaica commenced its Global Health Advocacy Project (GHAP).  The project supports obesity prevention through mass media campaigns for increased awareness of the harms of sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) and promotion of policy change.

Link to Obesity Prevention Public Opinion Survey, Jamaica :https://heartfoundationja.org/app/webroot/uploads/Final_Report_with_Key_Findings.pdf


For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:


K. Morrish Cooke

Communications Officer

Heart Foundation of Jamaica

Tel: 876-960-8293

Email: jctc@heartfoundationja.org




Michael Gonzales               (925-3911/382-6296; Michael.gonzales@jmgcommunications.com)

Natalie Davis          (925-3911/346-4281; Natalie.davis@jmgcommunications.com)