written by
Sandie de Freitas
Photos courtesy of
art by #ArtStudentsAgainistObesity
photos Norman Hart

The World Health Summit is the unique international strategic forum for global health. Held annually in Berlin, it brings together stakeholders from politics, science, the private sector, and civil society from around the world to set the agenda for a healthier future by inspiring innovative solutions for better health and well-being for all.

At the The World summit of 2022, The American University of Antigua was represented by two AUA students, Nana Konadu-Asare and Ashleigh Bates who presented their research on “Combating Childhood Obesity in Antigua.”

Antigua and Barbuda is 'off course' to meet all targets for maternal, infant and young child nutrition (MIYCN). No progress has been made towards achieving the target of reducing anaemia among women of reproductive age, with 17.2% of women aged 15 to 49 years now affected. Meanwhile, there has also been no progress towards achieving the low birth weight target, with 9.1% of infants having a low weight at birth.


Nurse Valarie Williams, NCD Coordinator within the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, was alarmed hearing the statistics. She decided to hit the streets. Right there on the tiny Market Street, Of Antigua, a small Island with a population of less than I00,000 she was confronted by the blaring truth as she counted the number of overweight Children walking in Uniform.  It was clear that most of our children were overweight or obese and, placing them at risk for the lifelong complications related to obesity and non-communicable diseases. Something had to be done to raise awareness especially targeting those at risk.

So what are the solutions? well a group of artists The #ArtStudentsAgainstObesity decided to matters into their own hands. They led the way by creating a mural painted in the heart of the St Johns, on the exterior walls of the Antigua Girls High School.

high school

This mural is a visual call to action by the students themselves calling upon the powers that be to increase efforts to eradicate the obesity crisis, facing a vitally important segment of Antigua and Barbuda’s population, the youth. This amazing art project has already begun shed light.

Plans are in place to expand the mural to directly advocate for a ban on the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in the school environment. This project has led the way for similar projects via the visual medium of art. It has also being documented that there is a direct link between Obesity and mental health which is now a double risk factor.

#ArtStudentsAgainstObesity is a school-based intervention that seeks to draw attention to the dangers of childhood obesity, advocate for change within the school environment, and to help counteract the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to school children. #ArtStudentsAgainstObesity was spearheaded by NCD Coordinator, Valarie Williams with the support of the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment,