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Fighting the fat

Fighting the fat

Child obesity is escalating rapidly in the UAE. The government is trying hard to encourage kids and parents to battle the bulge.

October 14, 2009 1:47 by

Two out of every five children in Dubai are overweight, according to a study released by Dubai Health Authority, reports The National. “We need an organized program to fight obesity,” said Fatma al-Attar, head of the community programme section at the health authority. “We can’t do it with just a one week campaign or a day of activities.”

The study, which was conducted over three years and surveyed 1,133 children from grades 10, 11 and 12, found that 26.7 percent of the children were overweight and 12.2 percent were obese.

It also found that boys were more likely to be overweight than girls. “Our explanation for this is that boys are going through hormonal changes and their muscles are growing,” al-Attar said. “Another explanation is that females are more worried about their looks, so maybe they are taking more care than boys about their weight.”

But the issue is not a new one. In April this year, the UAE health ministry partnered with UNICEF to launch a national campaign to tackle child obesity in the UAE called “The Fat Truth.” The three-month long campaign worked with the healthcare and educational sectors to educate parents on the health risks caused by obesity. As part of the campaign, educational leaflets were distributed in malls and clinics, and numerous workshops were organized to spread awareness about the issue.

While launching the campaign, Humaid Al Qatami, the UAE Health Minister attributed the rise in child obesity to the lack of exercise, and increasing consumption of fatty and sugary foods.

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