Learning to Love That Body is the theme of Caribbean Wellness Day 2009 being held on September 12.

The Minister of Health, the Walter Roban noted that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of Government are concerned about the epidemic of chronic non-communicable diseases as well as the ­physical, economic and ­social burdens caused by lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, obesity and cancer.

The World Health Organization reported that 60 per cent of all deaths worldwide are due to chronic non-communicable ­diseases.

In 2006, more than 60 per cent of all deaths in Bermuda were due to chronic non-communicable diseases. Chronic diseases are long-lasting and lead to years of pain and suffering, disability and often financial hardship for families and rising health care costs.

Evidence shows that up to 80 per cent of chronic non-communicable ­diseases can be prevented by addressing risk factors such as poor diet, physical inactivity and smoking.

Great strides

Minister Roban said: "In the 2006 Speech from the Throne, the Government announced that it would highlight preventative care and encourage positive lifestyle changes including weight loss, smoking cessation, healthy eating habits and physical exercise.

"This was followed by the launch of the Well Bermuda, National Health Promotion Strategy. Since 2006, great strides have been made to increase awareness and promote healthy lifestyles in the island through a variety of health promotion activities in conjunction with our Well Bermuda Partners."

This year Bermuda is joining with CARICOM countries in observing this day. The focus will be to provide health information to members of the public to increase awareness, understanding and to encourage individual commitment to healthy lifestyle behaviours. Individuals and families will be encouraged to set a small number of ­targets - eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, checking and controlling blood pressure, quit smoking and relieving stress - to be achieved through constant gentle practice rather than drastic unsustainable activity.