Caribbean countries have the worse epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and premature mortality from NCDs in the Region of the Americas. One of the leading risk factors for NCDs is overweight and obesity, primarily due to unhealthy diets. In the “non-Latin Caribbean”, overweight and obesity rates average 45.9% for men and 60.7% among women with 8% of children <5 years being overweight. These rates worsen each year. Creating enabling environments to improve dietary diversity would contribute significantly to reducing obesity and diet related NCDs. (Pan American Health Organization. Core Indicators 2019: Health Trends in the Americas. Washington, D.C.: PAHO; 2019.)
The “Improving Household Nutrition Security and Public Health in CARICOM” / Food and Nutrition (FaN) project was a follow-up of two previous IDRC-funded projects: Evaluation of the CARICOM Heads of Government POS Declaration 2014-2017 and Farm to Fork: 2011-2014. Its overarching goal was to improve dietary diversity in the region by building a shared understanding amongst stakeholders of the complex adaptive systems driving local food production and consumption in English-speaking CARICOM states; and to implement coordinated packages of interventions within national food systems that promote sustainable livelihoods of vulnerable groups, and combat obesity and diet-related NCDs.
This special issue of the Pan American Journal of Public Health will showcase initial initiatives to improve the quality and diversity of the diet of populations in three study countries (Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and St Kitts and Nevis) by engaging with stakeholders in designing, implementing, and evaluating integrated packages of interventions that address key “leverage points” within their food systems, and disseminating the lessons learnt throughout CARICOM.
The articles in this supplement comprise original research and special reports describing work done during the first 3 years of this 4 year project. Future publications will report on interventions that were concluded by the end of the project in June 2022.
We wish to thank the International Development Research Center, Ottawa, Canada for funding this meaningful work.