A Cross-Sectional Study Rating the Perceived Impact and Reach of the Ministry of Health and Wellness Initiatives to Curb Physical Inactivity in Jamaica
Like other countries, Jamaica in the last 2 decades has seen an increase in physical inactivity, which has significantly increased the number of people living with chronic lifestyle diseases on the island. It can be argued that increased industrialization has resulted in several ecological concerns, such as violence that may deter people from engaging in physical exercise, pollution and polluted air, lack of parks, walkways, and sports/recreational amenities. Despite the causes of physical inactivity, there is a global mobilization by the World Health Organization (WHO) and individual countries to reduce physical inactivity levels by at least 15% by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic has surely put a dent in the physical activity (PA) targets. Many countries initiated restrictive measures (lockdowns, curfews, and social distancing) to try and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. For countries such as Jamaica, combating physical inactivity seems to require strategies, interventions, motivation, and the promotion of physical activity (PA) culture from all stakeholders (integrated approach) to meet the WHO’s goals and standards by 2030. The purpose of this research was to assess the perceived impact and reach of Jamaica’s Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) initiatives to promote PA, impact weight loss, and lifestyle while trying to reduce sedentary behaviors in Jamaica. A standardized questionnaire was used in a single cross-sectional design that surveyed 843 Jamaicans using Google Forms. Participants ages 12-71 years old were surveyed using a hybrid sample strategy that used convenience and snowballs sampling techniques. The results of the study indicated that there was a 35% participation rate in the MOHW initiatives, with only 14.3% of the participants believed that the initiatives were impacting their weight loss and lifestyle. Additionally, 51.6% of the participants did not believe the initiatives caused them to participate more in PA; on average, the initiatives by the MOHW were rated at 50% effective. The initiatives are not very effective in reaching most of the population, which is not achieving the goal of enhancing healthy lifestyle practices and reducing physical inactivity. These implications may potentially see an increase in Jamaica’s physical inactivity levels and chronic lifestyle diseases if these initiatives are not intensified to reach the majority of the population.