Saudi Arabia launches new campaign to cut child obesity

Public-private sector initiative aims to reduce obesity rates in kingdom by 5% by 2020

Rashaka, a new health awareness program, has been launched in Saudi Arabia, with the aim of promoting an active lifestyle and reduce obesity among students.

It is a result of a partnership between the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Aquafina and Quaker Oats, a statement said.

The Ministry of Health said it aims to reduce obesity rates by 5 percent by 2020 in alignment with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Dr Shaker A Alomary, director of the obesity control program, Ministry of Health said: “The importance of an active and healthy lifestyle is increasingly gaining awareness among the people of Saudi Arabia.

"Rashaka is a key step towards the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and we invite students, teachers and parents to become part of the program as we strive towards becoming a healthier, fitter nation.”

Studies show that 28.7 percent of the Saudi population suffer from obesity, with 30.7 percent of students above the age of 15 deemed overweight.

The Rashaka program is expected to reach 20 percent of the public and private schools in the kingdom - 6,000 schools in total - in five years.

Activities relate to nutrition awareness and healthy diets, physical activity, and healthy lifestyles.

Aquafina and Quaker Oats said they have focused their efforts to increase awareness among children and teenagers about the key role regular hydration and a daily breakfast play in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Aquafina will conduct awareness education sessions as well as distribute informative kits on the importance of hydration while Quaker Oats will be providing daily breakfast to school students across the country.

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