UAE taskforce to fight Child Obesity menace

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As child obesity is on the rise, UAE taskforce aims to tackle this menace.
As child obesity is on the rise, UAE taskforce aims to tackle this menace.

Child obesity on the rise in the UAE
Emirates taskforce intensifies fight against growing menace

  • Multi-sectoral task force aims to achieve key milestones by 2020
  • Alarming 15% of young people under 20 in the UAE would be considered obese by 2025

According to the latest data from the World Obesity Federation, the UAE will have 15% of its young people under the age of 20 considered obese by 2025, compared to just 12% in 2013.

Globally, the growing issue of obesity has afflicted 50 million infants and 250 million school-age children.

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Infographic – UAE Child Obesity in Numbers

World Health Organization (WHO) has released an infographic on World Obesity Day urging the government to take urgent action to end child obesity.

According to WHO, in the UAE, 448,000 schoolchildren are expected to be overweight or obese by 2025.

The report highlights the risks of obesity, including impaired glucose intolerance, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure and fatty liver disease.

WHO also recommends steps to be taken to eliminate child obesity with measures such as reducing obesity in pregnancy, increasing breastfeeding in infancy, increasing children’s daily physical activities and controlling fatty & sugary foods in their diet.

UAE Child Obesity Infographic. Image-WHO/Arabian Gazette
UAE Child Obesity Infographic. Image-WHO

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, is taking bold steps to combat the increasing incidence of obesity.

To tackle the growing child obesity menace, multi-sectoral organisations and entities have been working together to help tackle obesity in Abu Dhabi and the rest of the Emirates. Key programmes, including the upcoming Abu Dhabi Childhood Obesity Forum, launched by MEED and in partnership with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, the inaugural edition hopes to support stakeholders’ initiatives and projects that aim to reduce the cases of obesity among children.

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Scheduled on 10-11 December 2017 at the Sofitel, Abu Dhabi Corniche, the forum is supported by the Abu Dhabi Obesity Taskforce and other top government entities to boost existing public health initiatives and generate new ones; engage a consortium of private and public sector stakeholders to activate pilot projects that aim to effect behavioural and lifestyle changes among children.

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Expert Panel of Speakers

The Abu Dhabi Childhood Obesity Forum has gathered an esteemed group of local and international experts who will share their insights with the taskforce to formulate a strategic action plan to help achieve its goals. Confirmed speakers include Dr Omniyat Al Hajri, Director, Public Health Division, Department of Health Abu Dhabi, Robin Ireland, Director of Research, Health Equalities Group UK; Dr. Simon Barquera, Director, Nutrition and Health Research Centre, National Institute of Public Health, Mexico; Prof. Claude Marcus, Head of Paediatrics Division, Karolinska Institute; Founder, Swedish National Childhood Obesity Centre; Chairman, Swedish Childhood Obesity Society; Dr. Pat Tuohy, Chief Advisor – Child & Youth Health, Office of the Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health, New Zealand; and Donna Ryan, President-elect, World Obesity Federation.

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Forum as a Change Agent

The Forum also aims to dissect the different aspects of the fight against childhood obesity, including examining the role of food providers in the fight against child obesity, enhancing obesity assessment and management programmes, boosting physical activity of children at home and in schools, encouraging them to make healthy lifestyle choices; and leveraging data and technology to bring education and communication campaigns to life.

“We are delighted that the Abu Dhabi Childhood Obesity Forum is leading the movement for change in the region. In a Forum like this we can ask questions: What have other countries done? How did they implement it? Who was persuaded to do it? And Who did the persuading?

“We will need to ask ourselves: What is our 20-year vision? What is our five-year plan? And what will we start tomorrow?

“Can we see Abu Dhabi the first state to reverse the trend in childhood obesity, across the target age range and among rich and poor alike?  I believe we can,’’ said Dr Tim Lobstein, Director of Policy, The World Obesity Federation.

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