Mr. Hugh Reid, general manager, JN Life Insurance Company is urging Jamaicans to monitor and pay close attention to their health as data from the Ministry of Health and Wellness has indicated that medical costs from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes alone, over the next 15 years, could be as high as $29.8 billion.

The insurance general manager said it was important that Jamaicans monitor what they ate and pay close attention to labels on food packages.

“The Ministry of Health and Wellness has done some studies which state that loss in workforce productivity over the next 15 years could be as high as $47 billion dollars, while medical costs from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes alone over the next 15 years could be as high as $29.8 billion,” Mr. Reid affirmed.

“The impact of these diseases place a high burden on families and can wipe out life savings. It is even more telling when you realize that one in three Jamaicans is hypertensive; one in eight is diabetic; and one third of the population will be diagnosed with a chronic illness,” he added.

Mr. Reid added it is for this reason that Jamaicans should pay close attention to their health and monitor what they consumed.

“We should avoid ultra-processed foods that are high in fat, salts and sugar. This is why reading and understanding food labels are important. Most importantly, no matter how prepared you are, we always remind Jamaicans that prevention is always better than the cure. Therefore, a healthy lifestyle is the best choice,” he said.

He added that there was also need for affordable insurance solutions so persons can invest in their health, adding there was “also a need to invest in critical illness plans to assist with mitigating the huge costs associated with treating chronic diseases.”

Mrs. Barbara McGaw, Project Manager, Global Health Advocacy Project, The Heart Foundation of Jamaica adds that with the dietary habits of Jamaicans changing over the years, there has been an increased consumption of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

“This is also attributed to the increased presence of pre-packaged processed foods which are pervasively marketed at attractive prices. A poor diet is one of the leading causes of NCDs, especially cardiovascular disease globally,” she explained.

Mrs McGaw adds that to reduce the risk of NCDs consumers and cardiovascular diseases, consumers needed to be armed with information to make the right choice.

“Given the magnitude of the NCD and CVD burden in not only Jamaica, and the complexity of dietary risk factor modification, there is a need for rigorous prevention strategies and policies across multiple societal levels to make a measurable impact on reducing prevalence rates. In essence, evidence-based policies are crucial to improve the diet and health of our population,” she added.

She urged Jamaicans to follow these simple steps to remain healthy.

“Get regular screening to know your four health numbers, blood sugar, blood pressure, blood lipids and BMI.  Follow a healthy diet and practice to read food labels. Eat adequate amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables; lean protein, and whole grains for dietary fibre. Drink more water, fewer sugary drinks, and less alcohol. Try not to skip meals; eat breakfast lunch and dinner every day. Controlling portion size and calorie intake.  Stay physically active and aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity for five days per week. It can help you lose extra pounds and ease stress,” Mrs McGaw affirmed.