By Andy Sambidge
Funding of over $1.3m aims to build capacities among specialists to conduct ground-breaking medical research
Al Jalila Foundation, a global philanthropic organisation dedicated to transforming lives through medical education and research, has announced that Dubai Holding will fund AED5 million ($1.36 million) towards obesity research in the UAE.
Al Jalila Foundation's Obesity Research Fund aims to build capacities among specialists to conduct ground-breaking medical research that is UAE-centric, but yields global benefits.
The programme will strengthen the culture of local research to align education with treatment, a statement said.
Ahmad Bin Byat, CEO of Dubai Holding, said: "The agreement is a demonstration of our shared vision of promoting health and wellness in the UAE. We have recently extended our Corporate Wellness Programme's mandate to go beyond our employees and include the wider UAE community.
"Our collaboration with Al Jalila Foundation on obesity research is a key component of this enhanced scope and we look forward to strong results and further cooperation."
Raja Al Gurg, chairperson of Al Jalila Foundation, added: "Dubai Holding and Al Jalila Foundation share a common goal to prioritise the health of our nation. Obesity is one of the most common diseases in the UAE and one of five medical health issues identified as a focus for the Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre.
"Tackling this epidemic relies on support from the whole community and continued investment into medical research. With the support of corporations such as Dubai Holding and the wider community, we can help eradicate obesity for our children and our country for generations to come."
Last month, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were all named among the top 10 countries globally for the highest rise in overweight and obese people under 20.
In a study published in medical journal Lancet, young Kuwaiti women recorded the biggest jump in weight gain at an 45.5 percent increase between 1980 and 2013.
Omani women under 20 were next highest at 42.3 percent, followed by young Saudi women at 37.4 percent.
Only Qatar was named in the top 10 countries for growing obesity among men under 20, with a 33.5 percent increase over the same time period.
The Pacific island nation of Kiribati topped the list for both men and women, with obesity increases of 47.7 percent and 66.1 percent respectively.
The findings have prompted renewed debate about the prevalence of obesity among children and young people.
In April UAE-based healthcare provider NMC Healthcare announced the launch of the country's first Health Index which reveals that people believe they are fitter than they actually are.
The survey showed that 35 percent of the population exercises less than once per week, and one in five smokes tobacco (of whom a quarter smoke around a pack a day).
It also showed that more than half have a BMI (body mass index) score in the overweight or obese range.