Health Sector Seminar to fight child obesity in the UAE“Get involved so they can too”
As an incessant effort of The Fat Truth campaign, the Ministry of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) organized a Health Seminar in Al Baraha Hospital addressing the role of primary healthcare doctors from across the UAE on child obesity prevention. The Health sector is challengingly promoting healthy nutrition plans and solutions for families in the UAE, in order to avoid health complications caused by bad eating habits.
The discussion included: Dr. Mahmoud Fikri, Executive Director of Health Policies in the Ministry of Health; Dr. Mariam Matroushi, Director of Health Legislation Dept., at the Ministry of Health; Dr. Jennifer Moore, Section Head of Family and School Health at Health Authority; Dr. Abdelazim Mabrouk, Pediatric Specialist at Muwajai Specialized Clinic; and Dr. Mostafa Afifi, Consultant – Mental Health, Primary Healthcare at Ministry of Health; Ms. Mayada Al Wahsh Programme officer at UNICEF.
Dr. Fikry said that the Ministry has benefited a great deal from the campaign in finding ways and solutions to prevent the spread of obesity in children. He confirmed that the Ministry will be evaluating the outcomes and recommendations at the end of the campaign and will apply the school interventions the rest of the UAE.
Dr. Matroushi presented the audience with statistics on the worldwide crisis of obesity stating that the globally each year is 2.6 million people as a result of being overweight or obese (WHO Global Report 2005). One of her recommendation was to use every opportunity to screen monitor and evaluate nutrition related problems including tracking Body Mass Index, counseling and guidance, and serving as role models.
Dr. Moore further explained the economic and psychological consequences of obesity, specifying that there is a significant impact on the healthcare system from morbidity cost and cost of mortality.
Additionally, obesity and metabolic syndrome is an emerging problem in children and adolescents as well. “Obesity became a global trend and it has many factors: lifestyle, eating habits, advanced technology and genetics” said Dr. Mabrouk. “Obesity should be taken seriously and parents should take their children to specialized clinics in order to get them tested for serious diseases related to obesity”, he added.
Another segment that the health community should focus on is the communication between the doctor and patient. Dr. Afifi gave the audience his perspective on the different psychological tools that doctors should consider during the consultation. He also stressed on the family support system to physically and emotionally support children who might be suffering from obesity.
The presentations were followed by a discussion session with the audience, which allowed them to further understand the causes and prevention methods for the obesity disease across the United Arab Emirates’ vast Health community.
The Fat Truth campaign was launched in April 2009, under the patronage of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashed Al Maktoom, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The campaign is organized by the Ministry of Health in partnership with UNICEF.
The Fat Truth campaign is supported by UNICEF’s strategic partner the General Women’s Union, WHO, the Ministry of Education and Princess Haya initiative for the Development Health, Physical education and school sports.
Media Partners include: Dubai Media Incorporated and Nickelodeon, in addition to Motivate Publishing, ITB Publishing, MediaQuest, Saydati wa Tefluki, Jeeran, Maktoob and 7Days.