Authorities in Qatar, the Gulf state with one of the world’s highest instances of obesity, are to launch weight loss camps for children in a deal with a UK firm.
According to the UK’s The Sunday Times newspaper, Qatar has approached the MoreLife centre to run weight management camps as part of a broader five-year strategy to make its children healthier.
MoreLife is said to have helped more than 8,000 children in Britain with its ‘fat camps’, with some of the youngsters reported to have weighed more than 30 stone.
The pilot programme will begin next month, when weather in the country is cooler, with 2,500 of Qatar’s most overweight children being selected for the scheme. They will first attend a two-week long boot camp, before taking part in after school clubs for three months. During the hotter summer months they will have access to online materials.
“We know across the whole of the Middle East obesity is 20 percent higher than what we find in the UK or Europe. Qatar is one of the worst places for child obesity. It is very affluent, the climate is very hot, which makes activity more difficult, and there is a very strong culture around food, family and celebrations,” Paul Gately, founder of MoreLife, was quoted as saying.
“We will be looking at the children’s eating patterns and making modifications, such as smaller portions and improving the quality of the food — often the food is fried,” he continued.
“Breakfast is a key meal and often children are missing it and grabbing something on the way to school. We will be encouraging them to walk to school instead of being driven.”
Approximately 39 percent of children in Qatar are classified as overweight, while 23 percent qualify as obese.