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All you get from alcohol are calories – Health official

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Chief Health Educator Patsy Wyllie has called for the enforcement of policies concerning the use and abuse of alcohol among young people.{{more}}

Wyllie, addressing a Ministry of Health hypertension symposium on Monday, said we are lax with laws here, when it comes to ensuring persons under the age of 18 do not consume alcohol.

“One just has to visit Heritage Square, and sometimes it is hard to tell the age of a person by looking, but sometimes it is very obvious where we see young children not only buying alcohol, but they are also consuming alcohol.

“It is obvious that they are under the age of 18 years, and we know the law says that no child under the age of 18 should buy or sell alcohol.

“We also talk about enacting appropriate drinking/driving policies, because we know the consequences of these…. We know we have had accidents within recent times with our young people, who have consumed alcohol, and they drive under the influence, and we know the consequences of those things.”

Wyllie said that there was a noticeable increase in the number of young persons who suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure, and this could be linked to alcohol use and abuse.

Highlighting some steps that can be taken to curb the harmful uses of alcohol, Wyllie suggested the enforcement of laws that prohibit under-aged drinking, along with other measures.

“We need policies to address the problem of alcohol in St Vincent and the Grenadines, because anybody can buy and do what they want,” Wyllie noted.

“We need to reduce the demand through taxation and pricing mechanisms… and we have to address our education and awareness in schools, also providing accessible and affordable treatment for people with alcohol-use disorders.”

Using figures obtained from the statistical department, the health educator disclosed that this country imported close to $3 million worth of alcohol, which is consumed in more than 3,000 licensed shops nationwide.

She said that the number of registered business places outnumbered the total health care providers here.

“So, if one person goes to a bar, and a health care worker decided to go and visit them, then we wouldn’t have sufficient health care workers to attend to each of them.

“And this is saying only the ones that are paying… can you imagine what happens around carnival time and other festive seasons.

“Maybe we can try to see if we can spend some of those hard-earned dollars on other things, like the production of the fruits and vegetables, rather than sending this large sum of money out of the country importing alcohol, because all we are consuming it is just calories and nothing else,” Wyllie noted.(JJ)

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