University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science > Linking the global and the local: the double burden of child malnutrition in Jamaica, c. 1960–2018

Linking the global and the local: the double burden of child malnutrition in Jamaica, c. 1960–2018

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Following independence in 1962, successive governments in Jamaica tried to reduce the high rate of child malnutrition. Malnutrition was the result of a lack of protein and calories, also called PCM – Protein Calorie Malnutrition – and was a leading cause of death. Since the 1990s, however, the island has witnessed a nutrition transition with child malnutrition declining and child obesity increasing. Based on, amongst others, medical journals, newspaper reports, ministry papers, and reports of international agencies, this paper first of all explores how child malnutrition was measured and analysed; the various proposals put forward and implemented to reduce it; and the success rate of these policies. It will show that over time child malnutrition and the solutions proposed became increasingly localised; that is, greater attention was paid to the socio-economic and cultural context of pre-school children and their families and there was less reliance on outside agencies to reduce PCM . The paper will then move on to trace the rise in child obesity levels and show that contrary to the UK, US and many other western countries, child obesity in Jamaica is largely associated with higher income groups. Although child obesity has rapidly increased – in 2017 some 10.3% of children were obese – very few attempts have so far been made to localise the problem. The paper will explain why only recently campaigns – both government and NGO funded – have been started to address child obesity.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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