UAE Press: Obesity poses a weighty challenge

ABU DHABI, 22nd April, 2018 (WAM) — The international community needs to double efforts to draw a new roadmap to deliver United Nations goals on obesity and diabetes by 2025, said Dr. Farida Al Hosani, Manager of Communicable Diseases at the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi.

The health official’s suggestion at the Gulf Obesity Summit and Regional Congress 2018 in Abu Dhabi “makes perfect sense especially because global obesity rates are said to have nearly tripled since 1975,” said The Gulf Today in an editorial on Sunday.

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 650 million were obese, which implies that urgent corrective measures are needed.

“The UAE, on its part, deserves praise for its efforts to find proactive solutions to fight obesity, through promoting health, nutrition and sports,” the paper added.

It continued, “As per experts, the UAE aims to introduce strict food regulations and standards, as part of the government’s policy to promote healthy lifestyles with a set of goals, including making healthy foods, nutrition and physical exercise a common and daily practice.

“Childhood obesity is another issue that needs to be tackled through greater community involvement. Awareness programmes and screening of students in schools to promote healthy lifestyles are steps in the right direction.”

The paper quoted Dr. Omniyat Al Hajri, Director of Public Health Division at the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi, as saying that some practical steps people could take to help, such as reducing the number of hours children spend in front of TVs and electronic devices; encouraging children to be more physically active; and offering healthier food choices at home, in school and in public cafes and restaurants.

The World Health Organisation defines overweight and obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.

“The cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Globally, there has been an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and an increase in physical inactivity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanisation.

“These challenges need to be addressed effectively as targeted action could bring 20 percent of obese people back to normal weight within a decade. What is needed is a coordinated response from governments, retailers and food and drink manufacturers,” the editorial explained.

“Limiting the size of portions in packaged fast food, parental education and healthy meals in schools and workplaces would go a long way in tackling the weighty challenge,” concluded the Sharjah-based daily.


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