Bishop Martin High wins National Nutrition Quiz Competition Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 04 October 2012 00:00

By 9 a.m., the River Hall of the Biltmore was packed as each school brought their class of supporters. Before the competition started, there was a brief opening ceremony in which representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and the World Health Organization addressed the students. Dr. Gerardo de Cosio, Country Representative for the World Health Organization, connected with the young audience very well. He asked, “Who likes junk food?” Almost everyone raised their hand. Cosio responded, “Shame on you.” He went on to account his own struggles giving up unhealthy food but urged the students to make an attempt to cut back in order to live a healthy life. Christine Norton, Country Representative for UNICEF, told the students that they have the power to transform Belize into a healthy and productive society where obesity and illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension are less prevalent. Dr. Jorge Polanco, Deputy Director of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, revealed some startling statistics. He shared that 65% of the adult population in Belize is overweight with 33% being obese. He explained to the students that “for a person to have good health it is a process”. He continued, “Whatever health status you have is a result of what you and your family have constructed.” He said that if you eat healthy and exercise regularly you end up living a healthy life. However, if “you chose to omit some healthy lifestyle practices, you will likely end up struggling with illnesses.” He said that most people going to the hospitals are cases of chronic diseases that are results of poor nutrition. He added that it is time that we focus on prevention.

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, agreed with Polanco that the Government should start to promote healthy nutrition and discourage the importation of unhealthy foods. However, pushing such aggressive legislation would depend heavily on the support of the public. He went on to disclose his own health struggle. He said when he returned from college in 1998, he weighed 115 pounds. In July, of this year he weighed 192 pounds. It wasn’t unnoticed by him and those close to him but it was not until Robin Daly, Nutritionist in the Ministry of Health, visited his office and brought a nutrition bar, urging him to start eat healthy, that he took the health risks seriously. He started exercising and eating healthier. He now weighs 176 pounds and says he is “continuing strong”. He asked for the support of the public when the Ministry decides to ban snack carts from in front of schools. The Ministry will also discourage large varieties of unhealthy food in school canteens. Faber said, “No more selling of this unhealthy stuff in our schools.” He then spoke directly to the quiz participants saying, “It doesn’t matter who wins the quiz competition; if we get the objective achieved we will all be winners in this country”. Faber expects the quiz participants to be health advocates after the quiz. They should take the lessons they learned in preparation for the quiz and share it in their schools, home and community. The quiz began after a performance by the Belize Dance Company. It was a cultural piece entitled “Cassava”. The group of three young female dancers and two Garifuna drummers did an excellent job at reviving the students’ excitement for the competition.

The competitors took their seats in teams of three and the quiz started. The quiz featured four rounds. In round one, each team member got three multiple choice or true and false questions. Each question is worth 5 points for a maximum score of 45 points. At the end of round one, St. Viator High had 25 points, Sacred Heart College had 30 points, Bishop Martin High had 35 points, Julian Cho Technical had 20 points, San Pedro High had 25 points, Delille Academy had 15 points and the Belize High School had 25 points. Nerves were definitely an issue in the first round as participants admitted to getting questions wrong on topics they know very well. The second and third rounds were also comprised of multiple choice and true and false questions. Each team got three questions in each round. Team members were able to collaborate in these rounds and each question was worth 10 points for a maximum score of 30 points. Bishop Martin High proved that the best way to win a competition is by taking a lead and controlling your own destiny as they got all of their questions in the second and third rounds correct. At the end of the third round, St. Viator Technical High and Delille Academy were eliminated. Since the questions grew more difficult in each round, round four was mind-blowing. It comprised of two short answer questions per team. Each answer was worth 20 points. Bishop Martin High left the door open by missing both questions after going perfect in the previous two rounds. However, none of the other four teams were able to get more than one correct answer and Bishop Martin’s early performance proved to be enough to secure the title of National Secondary Schools Nutrition Quiz Champions.

For winning the competition, Angel Navidad, Gabriela Castellanos and Dovini Chell of Bishop Martin High each received HP laptop computers. San Pedro High made a strong final push in the competition but finished second and Edith Lopez, Jazmine Ritchie and Mehe Perreira received a Kindle Fire each. Belize High School also shook off a rough first round and finished third. Jeremy Quinto, Felicia Quan and Tala Safa received AOC touch screen Tablets. All participants received gift baskets from San Cas as well. Normally, the national winner competes in a regional competition. However, the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI), which is the organization under which the regional competition falls, has been incorporated into another organization and local organizers are not certain that there will be a regional competition this year. Last year, Belize was recognized for executing the most organized competition in the region.