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Mon 20 Jun 2011 06:47 PM

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Qatar plans to launch major five-year health drive

Gulf state's gov't eyes legislation to enforce new policy; mandatory PE in schools, food labelling

Qatar plans to launch major five-year health drive
Qatar is planning to launch a five-year campaign to promote healthy eating and living habits

Qatar is planning to launch a five-year campaign to promote healthy eating and living habits, including mandatory physical education in schools and food labelling in restaurants.

In the long run, it is expected that the government will introduce a nutrition and physical activity legislation and policy, Qatar daily Gulf Times reported on Monday.

Dr Alanoud Mohamed al-Thani, the Supreme Council of Health’s Non-Communicable Diseases section manager, told the paper the aims was to drastically reduce cases of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and hypertension within the next three years.

“The action plan will show clear indicators and a time-frame for the next five years...we are looking for indicators related to women’s nutrition before pregnancy (pre-conceptional), during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

"We will also consider children’s nutrition for all age groups, especially those from kindergarten to secondary school level,” she said.

She added that there were plans to introduce physical education as part of the school curriculum in the country.

“We will also ensure that opportunities for physical activities are available in public places and easily accessible to all - both indoors and outdoors,” she said, adding that school canteens and cafeterias would be required to serve healthy food snacks to children.

It will also be mandatory for all eateries, supermarkets and restaurants serving food to show labels displaying the items’ nutritional contents.

Dubai authorities last month said they had issued new guidelines to schools in the emirate which are designed to ban unhealthy foods.

Dubai Health Authority and Dubai Municipality (DM) have announced new school canteen guidelines to maintain the health and safety of students as well as encourage them to follow healthy eating habits.

Foods that are not permitted include high caloric value foods, food with artificial flavours and food that has poor nutritional value, the organisations said in a joint statement.

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