Dubai: The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) is out to raise awareness about obesity through a raft of initiatives and programmes.
Ahead of World Obesity Day, observed on March 4, it said the prevalence of obesity among adults in the UAE is 27.8 per cent, according to the National Health Survey 2017-2018. The prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents aged five-17 years is 17.35 per cent, according to the latest statistics on the periodic examination of school students.
The ministry, in cooperation with local health authorities, strives to implement a national action plan according to time frames and performance indicators. The goal is to promote an appropriate healthy environment and encourage individuals and families to embrace a healthy lifestyle to deal with the challenge of obesity, thus realizing the goals of the national initiative “Promoting awareness of healthy lifestyles.”
The ministry has launched several media awareness campaigns, such as Together We Move, to promote physical activity among women aged 18-44 years. These campaigns also included raising awareness of the importance of healthy food and harmful effects of sweetened drinks on health. The campaigns were in line with the government resolution to impose a selective tax of 50 per cent on sweetened drinks and 100 per cent on energy drinks.
The official account of the Makom campaign and the Healthy and Positive Workplace initiative also encourages the public to maintain a healthy lifestyle
Workshop on nutrition
Meanwhile, MoHAP recently organized a workshop for the National Nutrition Committee in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop the second edition of the National Nutrition Strategy 2022-2030 and a related action plan.
The workshop is part of the Ministry’s plans to improve the nutritional status of the UAE population at all age and reduce disease and mortality rates from risk factors for non-communicable diseases in the diet. This is also to achieve the global nutrition targets 2025, and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Present at the workshop were Dr Hussein Abdul Rahman Al Rand, the ministry’s assistant undersecretary for the Public Health Sector and chairman of the National Nutrition Committee and Nouf Khamis Al Ali, director of the Health Promotion Department, MoHAP.
Those who attended from the WHO included Dr. Ayoub Al Jawaldah from the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as a number of strategic partners from 16 different sectors, such as health, education, municipalities, trade and industry, agriculture, economy and food and beverages industry.
The ministry’s nutrition team has reviewed the achievements of the UAE’s first National Nutrition Action Plan, and discussed the challenges faced by members of the National Committee for Nutrition, and appropriate solutions. The team has also discussed with the Global Health Advisor, the vision of the National Nutrition Strategy 2022-2030 and its strategic objectives.
Discussions reviewed six working groups to identify key nutrition interventions and programmes, covering key strategic areas. These include sustainable and flexible food systems for healthy diets, availability of health systems for comprehensive coverage of basic nutrition measures, social protection and nutrition education, investing to improve nutrition, safe and supportive environments for nutrition at all ages, and nutrition governance as a prelude to an advanced nutritional strategy.
Developing a food health system
Dr. Al Rand emphasized the importance of the workshop and its role in developing the national nutrition strategy in cooperation with the WHO Regional Office, adding that it comes in line with the ministry’s vision to improve the community health by providing comprehensive, innovative, world-class and fair health services and play the regulatory and oversight role in the health sector through an advanced and integrated health system system.
Al Rand stated that the second edition of the National Nutrition Strategy plays a crucial role in reducing the prevalence of chronic and malnutrition diseases, reducing the costs of spending on treating diseases, enhancing the health of new generations of children and adolescents, achieving food security in the country, and raising the quality and sustainability of life in the long term. This strategy will also contribute to realizing the global nutrition goals 2025 and sustainable development goals 2030, which will enhance the country’s position regionally and globally.
“The main goal is to draw an integrated road map to develop the food health work system in sustainable ways, to develop the results of national health indicators and reduce obesity in children and adolescents, to consolidate the preventive aspect and reduce the rate of lifestyle- related diseases,” added Al Rand.
“MoHAP, in cooperation with its strategic partners, is committed to promoting community health, providing the ingredients for health care in accordance with international best practices, and protecting society from chronic diseases.
This is achieved by expanding the scope of nutrition initiatives for a healthier and more sustainable future, strategies by international and regional policies and to promote health, he noted.