Bahrain to launch drive against child obesity
Manama, May 27, 2012
Bahrain is set to launch a national campaign to combat obesity and unhealthy eating among children, said a top official.
The BD40,000 ($106,440) initiative aims to cut down consumption of fizzy drinks among the country's young by distributing free milk cartons and dates at government schools.
The campaign, Milk is Health, is being organised by the Health Ministry's Nutrition Section and will promote a healthy lifestyle, starting in September for the new academic year.
It will target primary, intermediate and secondary school students and also aims to get them off their feet to become more active in their daily lives.
"We aim to introduce this campaign during the beginning of the new academic year in September and will promote dairy products and juices in government schools," said the ministry's Public Health Directorate nutrition section head Dr Nadia Gharib.
"The obesity rate on an average for both boys and girls is about 26 per cent and we are collecting and analysing new data that covers more than 60 per cent of schools in the country."
Once the survey is complete, a new strategy will be developed to tackle the growing problem and prevent unhealthy lifestyles among the country's young, said Dr Gharib.
Organisers are also planning to hold talks with leading dairy companies based in Bahrain and abroad to supply their products for free to the children.
"At the moment we are discussing to supply milk and dates in schools in co-operation with dairy and food companies," said Dr Gharib.
"We need to increase the consumption of milk among schoolchildren."
The campaign was introduced in 2008, where nearly 200,000 students benefited from it. During the same year the Nutrition Section conducted a survey which revealed that 60 per cent of schoolchildren in Bahrain consume more than one fizzy drink daily.
The study also found out that about 25 per cent of pupils suffer from obesity - more girls being affected more than boys.
A survey published by the Gulf Daily News earlier this year also showed that one in five Bahrainis did not do any form of exercise. It was conducted by US-based company Zarca Interactive in which a total of 300 people, including foreign workers, were interviewed. – TradeArabia News Service