MoH launches drive to combat child obesity
Dubai, April 20, 2009
UAE’s Ministry of Health (MoH), in partnership with Unicef, has launched a two-month long national campaign to fight child obesity in the UAE.
The campaign, which was launched today (April 20), is called “The Fat Truth” and carries the slogan “Get involved so they can too”. It will run until July 20.
It was launched under the patronage of Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashed Al Maktoom, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
“Our children are the foundation of the future of our society, our commitment as parents, governments, and institutions should be to take the right decisions for their long-term good and so give our children the opportunity to enjoy a better life, full of health and energy,” said Princess Haya.
Minister Hameed Al Qatami, Unicef’s representative in the Gulf referred to the statistics that show that around 10 per cent of children and adolescents (between 16 and 17 years old) in the world suffer from obesity.
He added that statistics in the UAE show that around 12 per cent of children are overweight, while 22 per cent thereof are susceptible to obesity.
The UAE now ranks tenth in the world amongst countries with the most overweight people as statistics show that 70 per cent of Emiratis suffer from overweight.
The Minister attributed this problem to the lack of exercise, and increasing consumption of fatty and sugary food items. He also warned from the dangers on children health as child obesity complications can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases and cancer in addition to the psychological problems which obese children suffer from.
Al Qatami elaborated that the Ministry is working on a number of programs that aim to secure health and safety for children from the early phases of their development, such as programmes for mothers and children, awareness campaigns that tackle the health of younger children, and methods to initiate healthy practices, good nutrition and exercise.
These programs also aim to discourage children and adolescents from engaging in harmful practices such as refraining from exercising, smoking and unhealthy eating.
Al Qatami also highlighted the Ministry’s efforts in fighting childhood obesity through cooperating with different institutions and stakeholders such as the Ministry of Education by implementing several joint projects that aim to increase awareness among school students and encourage them to engage in sports and healthy practices, and avoid harmful practices.
Cooperation between various institutions and entities is crucial to identify the right solutions to combat this phenomenon. In this context, the Ministry is currently focusing on developing plans and programs to enhance healthy lifestyles.
“Securing children’s health and protecting them from risks associated with diseases is a basic right that Unicef works diligently to ensure that it is respected and implemented in all societies” said Dr Ayman Abu Laban, Unicef representative in the GCC.
“The highly appreciated support of her Princess Haya and the MoH is solid proof of the interest and efforts that the UAE puts into protecting the health of children.”
The MoH and Unicef are cooperating through “The Fat Truth Campaign” to combat childhood obesity in the UAE though involving and educating parents and caregivers and involving the healthcare and educational sectors, as well as policymakers, government bodies and institutions in the problem solving process.
“The Fat Truth” campaign aims to raise awareness about the issue of childhood obesity.
The campaign will include a number of activities that shall be implemented over the coming three months in various schools in cooperation with the Knowledge and Human Development Authority and Dubai Sports Council.
Educational leaflets will be distributed in malls and clinics. In ad