Tag Archives: Nutrition

Tara McDonald (2008-2012), MA, Univ. of Ottawa

MA Thesis: Ignoring a Silent Killer: Obesity pandemic and Food Security in the Caribbean. Case Study: Barbados.  (Mar. 2008 – July 2012)

Thesis available from UofO here.

Obesity and obesity-related diseases – such as type 2 diabetes – have become the most crucial indicators of population health in the 21st century. Formerly understood as ‘diseases of affluence’, obesity is now prevalent in the Global South posing serious risk to socioeconomic development. This is particularly true for rapidly developing countries where epidemiological and nutrition transitions are most apparent. Obesity arises from an imbalance between energy input and output. However, there are many factors which impact on risk of obesity such as gender, culture, environment, socioeconomic status and biological determinants. The problem is further aggravated within small island developing states where food security is exacerbated by factors associated with globalization and development. The present thesis examines the surge of obesity within Caribbean populations using Barbados as a case study. Due to the complexity of obesity and unique cultural nuances affecting food security and body size, a holistic approach was applied using an ecological health model. Moving away from the lifestyle model, the theoretical framework underpinning the present thesis included sub-theories such as social constructivism, feminism, post-colonial theory and concepts of memory and trauma as they relate to the obesity epidemic. The research question was: ‘What are the causes and consequences of obesity in Barbados?’ It is an ironic fact that Barbados – a leading Caribbean nation – also suffers from the highest prevalence of obesity and diabetes in the region and the highest per capita number of diabetes-related lower extremity amputations globally. In conclusion, the thesis argues that the health situation manifesting in the Caribbean – and particularly Barbados – is akin to ‘dietary genocide’.

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