St. Lu­cia in In­ter­na­tional Health News

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Are­cent jour­nal ar­ti­cle in­di­cates that St. Lu­cian women ap­pear to be at greater risk for the de­vel­op­ment of meta­bolic syn­drome than their male coun­ter­parts. Meta­bolic syn­drome, which refers to the co-oc­cur­rence of var­i­ous fac­tors in­clud­ing a waist mea­sure­ment greater than 40 inches for men and greater than 35 inches for fe­males, in­creases the risk of di­a­betes and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease (CVD). Th­ese ill­nesses are part of the global epi­demic of non­com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases (NCDs) that ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion are re­spon­si­ble for 63% of all deaths world­wide. The vast majority of th­ese deaths (80%) oc­cur in low and mid­dlein­come coun­tries like St. Lu­cia. The re­search ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled “Preva­lence of Risk fac­tors for the Meta­bolic Syn­drome in the mid­dle in­come Caribbean na­tion of Saint Lu­cia” was pub­lished in the jour­nal “Ad­vances in Pre­ven­tive Medicine.”

The ar­ti­cle in­di­cates that St. Lu­cian adults in gen­eral, both male and fe­male, need to pay closer at­ten­tion to their life­styles since cur­rent pat­terns pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of meta­bolic syn­drome and as­so­ci­ated non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases. The main life­style/ be­hav­ioral risk fac­tors for meta­bolic syn­drome are phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity, poor diet, al­co­hol use and to­bacco use. Obe­sity, mea­sured by body mass in­dex (BMI) is also a risk fac­tor for meta­bolic syn­drome. Ac­cord­ing to stan­dard clas­si­fi­ca­tion a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is con­sid­ered over­weight while a BMI above 30 is con­sid­ered obese.

The re­search study on which the ar­ti­cle is based, found some in­ter­est­ing gen­der dif­fer­ences among St. Lu­cians. More fe­males (56%) than males (18%) had a waist size equal to or ex­ceed­ing the in­di­ca­tor for meta­bolic syn­drome. More fe­males (36%) than males (22%) re­ported a seden­tary life­style and fe­males had a higher av­er­age BMI (28.8) than males (26.5). Con­versely how­ever, more males (65%) than fe­males (43%) re­ported al­co­hol con­sump­tion, and sim­i­larly more males (13%) than fe­males (1%) re­ported to­bacco use. Of all of th­ese life­style/be­hav­ioral fac­tors, phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity is most strongly as­so­ci­ated with in­creased risk of de­vel­op­ment of meta­bolic syn­drome. There­fore, it is im­per­a­tive that St. Lu­cian men and es­pe­cially women en­gage in some form of reg­u­lar ex­er­cise.

Diet is also an im­por­tant mod­i­fi­able life­style fac­tor for CVD and although this study did not ad­dress this as­pect, two other stud­ies un­der­taken by this re­search team ad­dressed diet among St. Lu­cians. The re­sults of th­ese stud­ies will be re­leased shortly.

The harsh re­al­ity is that many coun­tries like ours are car­ry­ing a dou­ble bur­den of dis­ease as they deal with in­fec­tious dis­eases (like Chikun­gunya) while also con­fronting the epi­demic of di­a­betes, heart dis­ease and other non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases. It is im­per­a­tive there­fore, that ef­fec­tive, cost­ef­fi­cient mea­sures be found and im­ple­mented. In an ef­fort to ex­plore pos­si­ble op­tions, El­iz­a­beth Serieux, one of the au­thors of the study, is plan­ning to un­der­take another re­search project here in St. Lu­cia dur­ing De­cem­ber 2014 and Jan­uary 2015. The up­com­ing project aims to in­ves­ti­gate whether text mes­sag­ing can be an ef­fec­tive tool to im­prove knowl­edge and be­hav­ior re­lated to obe­sity and as­so­ci­ated non­com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases. Liz, a Saint Lu­cian cit­i­zen (daugh­ter of Michael and Sylvesta Serieux), is a Doc­toral Can­di­date in Pub­lic Health at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia in the United States. She pre­vi­ously earned a Masters De­gree in Pub­lic Health (MPH) from the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia and was awarded the prize for Most Out­stand­ing Stu­dent in Health Pol­icy. She also earned cer­tifi­cates in Global Health, Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment and Geron­tol­ogy and was the first stu­dent in the Col­lege to simultaneously com­plete all three. Liz says this was im­por­tant for her to do be­cause “all of th­ese ar­eas are tremen­dously rel­e­vant to health and life in St. Lu­cia and the wider Caribbean and since I in­tend to work in the area of Pop­u­la­tion Health, I wanted to en­sure that I am ex­cel­lently equipped to ad­dress all of th­ese is­sues.”

Liz goes on to state that: “the re­search par­tic­i­pants and the fa­cil­i­ta­tors at the var­i­ous data col­lec­tion sites (Ta­pion Hos­pi­tal, Vic­to­ria Hos­pi­tal, Rod­ney Bay Med­i­cal Cen­ter and EM Care) were truly phe­nom­e­nal like most St. Lu­cians gen­er­ally are.” She sin­cerely thanks them all and shares the find­ings, “so we can be­gin to take the nec­es­sary ac­tion”. Liz is also look­ing for­ward to im­ple­ment­ing the up­com­ing “text mes­sage” re­search project and ex­tends an invitation to all St. Lu­cian adults to be on the look­out and to “opt in” to par­tic­i­pate in Jan­uary. This up­com­ing study will be im­ple­mented is­land-wide. Fur­ther de­tails will be pro­vided closer to the date and in the mean­time, if you would like to par­tic­i­pate in the up­com­ing study, as­sist with im­ple­men­ta­tion or if you have ques­tions or com­ments, please con­tact Liz at healthy­hap­py­lu­

The full text of the cur­rent study can be found in: Ad­vances in Pre­ven­tive Medicine: Vol­ume 2014 (2014), Ar­ti­cle ID 501972.

St Lu­cian doc­toral can­di­date El­iz­a­beth Serieux.

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