JAMAICA GLEANER – That there is a high rate of diabetes in the Caribbean and a continued increase in the non-communicable disease among Caribbean nationals does not come as a surprise to vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles.
While officially opening the second staging of the World Family Doctor Day Conference, put on by the Caribbean College of Family Physicians at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in St Andrew yesterday, Beckles did not miss the opportunity to share historical musings on the conference theme regarding non-communicable diseases.
“We know that when we go behind the conversation about inactivity, diet, changing lifestyles and the narrative that says these are the causes of hypertension and diabetes, the historians would say that we have to historicise the problem and look back at what obtained in plantation society,” he told the gathering of doctors.
SLAVE DIET POINTS TO PANDEMIC
Drawing on his vast mental catalogue of 18th- and 19th-century records of numerous slave plantations across the region, Beckles argued that the staple diet of the slaves would have pointed to a diabetes pandemic within the region.
“If you take a people and you entrap them on sugar plantations for 300 years and you feed them sugar every day, and you tell them they must eat what they grow and what they grow is sugar, and every day they are eating sugar and on top of that you feed them on salt fish and salt pork every single day for all of their lives … what do you expect?” he asked.