Abu Dhabi takes bold steps to combat childhood obesity


Staff Report

Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi is taking bold steps to combat the increasing incidence of obesity.

According to the latest data from the World Obesity Federation, the UAE will have 14.62% of its young people under the age of 20 considered obese by 2025, compared to just 12.40 in 2013.
Globally, the growing issue of obesity has afflicted 50mn infants and 250mn school-age children.

Against this backdrop, multi-sectoral organisations and entities have been working together to help tackle obesity in Abu Dhabi and the rest of the Emirates through key programmes, including the upcoming Abu Dhabi Childhood Obesity Forum, launched by MEED and in partnership with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, the inaugural edition hopes to support stakeholders’ initiatives and projects that aim to reduce the cases of obesity among children.

Scheduled on 10-11 December 2017 at the Sofitel, Abu Dhabi Corniche, the forum is supported by the Abu Dhabi Obesity Taskforce that includes the General Secretariat of the Executive Council, Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council, Department of Education and Knowledge, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Abu Dhabi Health Services, Department of Economic Development, Family Development Foundation, Department of Urban planning and Municipalities, Abu Dhabi Media, Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care to boost existing public health initiatives and generate new ones; engage a consortium of private and public sector stakeholders to activate pilot projects that aim to effect behavioural and lifestyle changes among children.

The Abu Dhabi Childhood Obesity Forum has gathered an esteemed group of local and international experts who will share their insights with the taskforce to formulate a strategic action plan to help achieve its goals. Confirmed speakers include Dr Omniyat Al Hajri, Director, Public Health Division, Department of Health Abu Dhabi, Robin Ireland, Director of Research, Health Equalities Group UK; Dr. Simon Barquera, Director, Nutrition and Health Research Centre, National Institute of Public Health, Mexico; Prof. Claude Marcus, Head of Paediatrics Division, Karolinska Institute; Founder, Swedish National Childhood Obesity Centre; Chairman, Swedish Childhood Obesity Society; Dr. Pat Tuohy, Chief Advisor – Child & Youth Health, Office of the Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health, New Zealand; and Donna Ryan, President-elect, World Obesity Federation.

The Forum also aims to dissect the different aspects of the fight against childhood obesity, including examining the role of food providers in the fight against child obesity, enhancing obesity assessment and management programmes, boosting physical activity of children at home and in schools, encouraging them to make healthy lifestyle choices; and leveraging data and technology to bring education and communication campaigns to life.

“We are delighted that the Abu Dhabi Childhood Obesity Forum is leading the movement for change in the region. In a Forum like this we can ask questions: What have other countries done? How did they implement it? Who was persuaded to do it? And Who did the persuading?

“We will need to ask ourselves: What is our 20-year vision? What is our five-year plan? And what will we start tomorrow?

“Can we see Abu Dhabi the first state to reverse the trend in childhood obesity, across the target age range and among rich and poor alike? I believe we can,” said Dr Tim Lobstein, Director of Policy, The World Obesity Federation. abdulbasit@theuaenews.com