This is my vision: to Eradicate Diabesity Worldwide by 2050. Is this possible?
Can you picture a future in which:
- Diabetes is a rare disorder that less than 2% of human beings develop?
- Obesity and overweight are treated as diseases, and are rare in the human population?
- You tell your grand kids “There used to be a lot of weight loss and diet programs and such around, but nobody needs that anymore!”
- People eat real, whole food as a rule and packaged, processed food as the exception, and as a result, live in divine health?
Trinidad and Tobago is small, but it is the perfect microcosm in which to set a precedent, partly because of its size – about 1.4 million people reside here – but there’s more!
- Trinidad is a leader in the Caribbean region in many areas of life. As an oil
producing nation, it enjoys relative economic strength
- Trinidad is also a leader in obesity and metabolic disease in this region. In 2016, it was running a 31% obesity rate. This mimics the worldwide statistics.
- Trinidad’s success as a republic may also be part of its downfall. Here, the trend is to mimic the US in many ways, including adopting – nay, EMBRACING and OWNING fast food culture.
All of this can be overcome. It is possible.
Here’s a future headline and article you may find in a Trinidadian publication on my way to accomplishing this:
Obesity Rates Plummet in Island Nation – Society Reaps Benefits
Healthy Trini 2023 is a Success!
In part 1 of this 2-part series, we explore the amazing changes that have occurred over the last 5 years through a revolution in the food culture in our sovereign nation that arose out of a church food ministry.
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago becomes the first nation in the world to eliminate the obesity and diabetes epidemic from its shores. What started as a community feeding program in a Pentecostal church in one of the nation’s poorest communities has turned the entire country around. The Healthy Trini 2023 goal was first announced by the Guaico Pentecostal Church feeding program’s director, Rashida V. Serrant-Davis, in December 2018. The program had been underway for 8 months at that stage but already looked different from any program that preceded it.
“Knowing that the pandemic was growing in this country, motivated by my personal successes and God’s will that his creation thrive on what He provided us, I saw an opportunity to bring positive change to this country that would affect more than just the health of the people,” she said in a recent interview. “The three-pronged goal was to evangelize through the medium of food, eliminate food insecurity by re-establishing food sovereignty among the people and to see indirect but related benefits in such forms as better academic achievement and lower crime rates in the communities we touched.”
Before long, the program secured a prime location for expansion in Sangre Grande town. A historic postal building that had been long abandoned now houses the program and an overgrown lot across the road is one of numerous “Faith Gardens” established and maintained by Guaico Pentecostal to supply its programs with organic produce. The building and the interior work were supplied and financed by the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation with the support of Terry Rondon, while solar roof tiles and two electric powered vehicles were donated by Tesla corporation from the United States. The vehicles are used to deliver prepared meals to the program’s Meal on Wheels client base, as well as for hauling tools and harvests between gardens, the program headquarters and the church in Guaico. The church also developed a carefully curated donor list for dry goods such as brown rice, alternative flours and pastas and other healthy seasonings and dry goods.
“Once we declared the goal and put it on our prayer calendar, we saw huge leaps in the program’s successes in Grande. Through the PAWI (Pentecostal Association of the West Indies) network, we started to expand to other communities by hosting workshops and sharing resources,” explained Bishop Warren Harper, the pastor at Guaico Pentecostal. “It spread rapidly”, he said.
The program started in March 2018 with a survey. The feeding program team used the results of the survey to identify Food Insecurity issues in the form of gaps in household incomes during the month and difficulty accessing nutritious food because of location, a situation known as “food desert”. Also in the survey were questions about lifestyle diseases in the households, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Based on the survey results, the team carefully targeted feeding activities to addressing the problems based on timing as well as content of the food. “We didn’t just want to full bellies,” Mrs. Serrant-Davis said, “we wanted to nourish our community spiritually and physiologically.” And that is what they did.
Community after community was showing results as reported by hospitals and health centers nationwide. At the time they started, Trinidad and Tobago had a 31% obesity rate with more than 50% of Trinis being at least overweight. There were, according to the Trinidad Diabetes Association, more than 175,000 cases, including children, nationwide. As of August 2023, the Pan-American Health Organization was pleased to report that the obesity rate is remarkably low at around 2%, and the estimate on the overweight population is now down to less than 5%. The Diabetes Association and the medical community in Trinidad have now embraced the dietary prescription model for the more prevalent Type 2 version of the disease as they had already started to see reversals happening at an exciting rate. The Association estimates that they now have seen at least 100,000 people who have been able to come off diabetic medication and insulin and have recorded lower blood sugar readings consistently over at least a month after stopping the drugs. This means they are cured of a disease we all thought was incurable. Similar changes were reported in patients with high blood pressure, a great many of whom have also been able to show healthy blood pressure readings even after stopping the use of their medications.
Have we experienced the other benefits of this phenomenal change through food evangelism in Trinidad? Read part 2 of Healthy Trini 2023 next Sunday to see what we’ve found!