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Wed 25 Nov 2009 08:01 AM

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UAE schools to join fight against childhood obesity

Education and healthy eating drive will start in Dubai and Sharjah schools next month.

UAE health and education officials are launching a bid next month to tackle childhood obesity, as doctors estimate 50 percent of school-age children are overweight.

An education and healthy eating initiative will start in the middle of December in Dubai and Sharjah schools, a health official told Gulf News.

Pupils will be encouraged to eat less junk food and swap computer games and watching television for sports and exercise.

School canteens will also be supervised to make sure they serve healthy options, Salah Ahmad Mohammad, director of the national programme for control of diabetes told the paper.

An unnamed ministry doctor told the paper that about half of all school-age children are overweight. Weight problems can lead to heart disease and diabetes later in life, as well as having a negative impact on a person’s self esteem, Mohammad. Dr Ayoub Kalaff, a psychologist, told the paper.

"Overweight people retreat into themselves when they receive negative comments [about their physique], which will see them continuing to eat junk food for comfort and staying indoors to avoid social interaction," he said.

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MH 10 years ago

Even though I applaud the initiative, 'serving healthy options' will not help very much. What will children choose between a salad or fries or pizza? Schools should be forbidden to serve any junk food or soft drinks and kids should not be allowed to bring it to school. Of course, schools are mostly more interested in making money than taking care of kids, hence the Ministry of Health and of Education should step in. And wait wait, why not now? Of course, it all starts at home, learn kids some healthy habits. Nothing wrong with eating a burger and fries on occasion, but it should be a treat. Kids will even enjoy it more that way. A bit of effort, consistency and putting your foot down, will go a very long way.

A.L.S 10 years ago

Great start at implementing healthier food choices but may I recommend to make any sport acivity compulsary! Back home in primary school it is complusary for all children to be part of 'Sport Lessons', and no one was exempted from it. Only when one reaches high school was it then a choice to enter into any sport one wishes, but one had to participate in a team sport. One needs to change the mind set of the UAE (local & expats), who had been spoilt and pampered and had become lazy.

R. VENKATARAMAN 10 years ago

Not to worry. The present cost of living will automatically bring down the weight. Moreover, the standard and quality of items are slowly on the decrease, which will certainly contribute for more sickness in future, thus the percentage of obesity will reduce on its own within the next 2/3 years.

Mike 10 years ago

The majority of obesity cases are due to un-healthy eating, and drinking the incorrect amount / type of water. There is a 5 word formula for weight loss, it is: "eat less and exercise more" Added to which is the correct amount of water, next to air PURE WATER is the most vital element required for life.