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Laila Al Jassmi

Dubai residents 'not eating enough healthy food'

Dubai, May 16, 2012

More than half of Dubai residents (about 59 per cent) are not consuming enough fruits and vegetables to keep themselves healthy, according to a comprehensive survey conducted by The Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

Announcing this on Wednesday, DHA said the results are part of the overall Dubai Household Health Survey (DHHS), involving 5,000 households that was jointly conducted in 2009 with Dubai Statistics Centre.

It provides complete break-down of fruit and vegetable consumption of the population in the emirate, the DHA said in a statement.

The results highlight the extent to which the population of Dubai consumes fruits and vegetables on a regular basis to keep themselves healthy.

The aim was to gauge the current situation and accordingly advocate through educational and awareness programs the need to consume sufficient fruits and vegetables to remain healthy and stay free from lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, said a senior DHA official.

“The results of the preventive health behavior section of the survey is of key importance as it provides us a complete statistical break-down of the extent to which our population consumes fruits and vegetables,' remarked Laila Al Jassmi, the CEO of Health Policy and Strategy Sector at the DHA.

'The results provide us details which will help us tailor-make our awareness initiatives to reach out to various sections of society,' explained Al Jassimi.

The study, she said, establishes a direct link between education and consumption of fruits and vegetables, and thus points out the need to raise overall awareness in the society through awareness initiatives.

'A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables is very important, especially for our population, given the current prevalence of lifestyle diseases,' she pointed out.

According to Al Jassmi, these statistics provides details of the fruit and vegetable consumption of the population in Dubai in terms of age, gender, income, education and nationality.

As part of the survey, respondents were asked to jot down details of their daily intake of fruit and vegetable.

“These findings provide us valuable data so that we can base our public health policies in a manner that allows us to reach out to the segment of society that most requires it.”
 
Dr Amnah Matar Al-Marashdah, senior research specialist at the DHA Health Policy and Strategy Sector, said  the survey asked respondents as to how many servings of fruits and vegetables they eat on a typical day.

One serving of fruit was defined as a medium sized fruit, or a handful of smaller fruits (fresh or dried) and a serving of vegetable was defined as a cup of fresh or cooked vegetables, she explained.

'Respondents were asked how many serving of fruit and vegetables they eat on a typical day. The data obtained was then used to construct an indicator of sufficient fruit and vegetable consumption for reducing health risks – based on WHO/FAO Consultation.'

The results were validated using multivariate regression analysis and other tests of statistical significance, she added.

Dr Al-Marashdah, the survey revealed that the prevalence of sufficient consumption of fruit and vegetable among the adult residents in Dubai was 41.4 per cent.

The prevalence of sufficient consumption of fruit and vegetable is higher among Arab male expatriates (63.9 per cent) as compared to the average of 39.4 per cent, she said.

The survey found that women were significantly more likely to consume more sufficient amounts of fruit and vegetable as compared to men. Anothering finding was that as age increases, the prevalence of sufficient consumption of fruit and vegetable also increases, Dr Al-Marashdah said.

According to her, the highest prevalence of sufficient consumption of fruit and vegetable is among high income groups and the lowest prevalence is among low income groups.

Among women, Indians topped the list in the consumption of more sufficient amount of fruit and vegetable (54.3 per cent)  compared to UAE national women, Europeans and other Asians women.

The survey found that the prevalence of sufficient consumption of fruit and vegetable among UAE nationals was 53.8 per cent. Among UAE nationals, as age increases the prevalence of sufficient consumption of fruit and vegetable increases.

Interestingly, they survey also found that there was a direct link between education, income and the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Among UAE nationals the survey found that their healthy food intake was directly linked to education; The more educated an Emirati was, he/she was likely to consume more quantity of healthy fruits and vegetables.

Al Jassmi pointed out that these results will be used in the DHA public health and awareness policies.

She urged the public, private health sector, employees and schools to come together and promote the need for sufficient and regular consumption of fruits and vegetables.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Survey | Dubai Health Authority | Vegetables | Fruits | dubai residents | healthy food | intake | Eating |

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