Press Release

Ministry of Health & Social Development
Release Date:
Wednesday, 6 March 2024 - 4:23pm

Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Vincent Wheatley has stated that 44% of primary school children in the Virgin Islands are overweight or obese.

Honourable Wheatley in a statement on World Obesity Day observed on March 4 stated that it is time for the community to have conversations about obesity as its impact on Virgin Islanders is a topic that calls for our immediate attention and collective action.

Honourable Wheatley said, “According to the country’s last assessment – STEPS Risk Factor Survey, almost 40% of adults between the ages of 25 to 64 years are obese, while according to a 2023 school health assessment 44% of primary school children are overweight or obese.

The minister said that obesity is intricately woven into the fabric of the Virgin Islands society.

 “Our traditions are rich in several of the risk factors that contribute to our high obesity rates,” Honourable Wheatley said. He added, “The manner in which we prepare our meals, our choices of ingredients, our portion sizes and even the beverages we consume all contribute to potential risks. This is also coupled with our sedentary lifestyles.”

Honourable Wheatley said that it is time to talk openly about the impact of obesity and envision a healthier, more resilient future for the people.  “We must recognise that tackling obesity requires a multi-faceted approach. It involves reshaping policies, promoting access to nutritious foods, and creating environments that encourage physical activity,” the minister said.

            Honourable Wheatley said his ministry is working assiduously to promote awareness and prevention through the Public Health Unit. This he said includes the upcoming launch of the Food Based Dietary Guidelines and the Eat Well Guide for the Virgin Islands.

The Minister for Health work is also underway to develop a protected food basket that will ensure that even low-income households will have access to nutritious food while there are other nutrition initiatives including public education in alcohol, salt and sugar reduction as well as understanding food labels.

Honourable Wheatley is encouraging the community to do their part to reduce the impact of obesity locally by amplying voices, share stories, and learn from each other. 

“By doing so, we can pave the way for a BVI that thrives with vitality and health, where the impact of obesity is minimised, and the well-being of our people takes centre stage,” he said.

World Obesity Day is observed annually on March 04 and this year’s  observance was held under the theme, “Let’s talk about obesity and…”  The theme is a call to action for the community to engage in conversations that go beyond the numbers on a scale, and urges persons to explore the myriad of dimensions that obesity touches. 

For more information on collaborating with the Ministry of Health and Social Development, persons can contact the Public Health Unit at 468-2878.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development is committed to improving the health of the people of the Virgin Islands.




Natasha Lettsome-Humphrey

Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
Telephone: 468-2286