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New media campaign urges Jamaicans against consumption of sugary drinks

(Kingston, Jamaica and New York, USA) –A rapidly increasing rate of childhood obesity in Jamaica has prompted The Heart Foundation of Jamaica, the Ministry of Health and Jamaica Moves to launch a new media campaign to address the issue head-on. Entitled “Dad,” the campaign shows a family rejecting the purchase of sugary drinks, and the role parents can play in ensuring their children make healthy choices.


“Overweight and obese children are more likely to be overweight and obese as adults, increasing their lifetime risk of related disease and premature death,” said Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, Policy, Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies. “This is preventable. Policies that change the obesogenic environment, and media campaigns that warn of its serious harms, are critical. With this campaign, the Ministry of Health and The Heart Foundation of Jamaica are making an important effort to inform Jamaicans about the health risks associated with obesity and the unhealthy role played by sugary drinks.”

The World Health Organization’s Global School-Based Student Health Survey (GSHS) in Jamaica found that obesity rates in boys almost doubled between 2010 and 2017, from 5.3 percent to 10.3 percent (a 94 percent increase), and increased from 6.7 percent to 9.9 percent (47 percent increase) among girls. The overall rate of overweight among Jamaican teens aged between 13 and 15 years increased from 21.7 percent in 2010 to 25.6 percent in 2017. The newly-released GSHS, Jamaica 2017, also found that 69.9 percent of children aged 13-15 consume carbonated soft drinks one or more times per day. Children who consume this amount of sugary drinks increase their risk of being overweight by 50 percent. Over time, this level of consumption also exposes them to serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

In “Dad,” a father considers how he can set a healthy example to his children, and instead of purchasing sugary drinks, chooses water. The ad shows the children following his example by also choosing to drink water. Vital Strategies supported research, which found that this ad resonated strongly with Jamaicans. 93 percent of focus group participants felt the ad was believable and 94 percent indicated it made them feel concerned about their consumption of sugary drinks.

Jamaicans are encouraged to follow the campaign and learn how to reduce added sugar in their diet at @heartfoundationja, @themohgovjm and @jamaica_moves, and use the hashtags #AreYouDrinkingYourselfSick and #LessSugarMoreLife to support the campaign on social media. Vital Strategies, a global public health organization, provided technical assistance for this campaign.

The campaign will run on TV, radio, in newspapers, on social media and on billboards and it follows “Are you drinking yourself sick?”,” a 2017 campaign that informed people about the amount of sugar present in sugary drinks like soda and fruit juices, and warned of the health harms associated with consuming them.

Further information and stills from the campaign are available upon request.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public health expert, please contact