ABU DHABI, The World Obesity Day, which is observed on 4th March, is an occasion to bring together individuals and organisations from around the world to address the root causes of obesity and the resulting chronic diseases, let alone the economic and psychological burdens of obesity on individuals, societies, and countries.
In this regard, the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has made great strides in the fight against obesity through the focus on both treatment and awareness, to develop the National Agenda indicator on the prevalence of obesity in line with the ministry’s strategy to provide comprehensive and integrated healthcare service in innovative and sustainable ways to prevent the disease in society.
According to the results of the National Health Survey 2017 – 2018, the obesity rate among adults in the UAE stands at 27.8 percent, while the rate among children and adolescents, aged 5 to 17 years, reached about 17.35 percent based on the latest statistics of the periodic examination of school students.
Among the outstanding achievements the ministry made in the treatment of obesity was the obtaining of international accreditation as a centre of excellence in bariatric surgery by the Joint Commission International (JCI) by the Al Qassimi Hospital Sharjah, making it the world’s first hospital outside the United States to have received this prestigious award.
The ministry has also established more such centres for the treatment of obesity and increased the number of obesity clinics and hospitals equipped with competent medical teams and state-of-the-art equipment to perform bariatric surgeries. This is in addition to conducting obesity and overweight clinical research studies, utilising mobile applications in spreading obesity-related outreach campaigns, and setting up a database for patients who underwent bariatric surgeries to follow up on their health conditions.
The ministry has teamed up with the state’s health authorities to implement a national plan with specific timeframes and performance indicators to enhance the appropriate health environment and encourage individuals and families to adopt healthy lifestyles enabling them to deal with obesity, something that contributes to achieving the objectives of the national initiative “Promoting awareness of healthy lifestyles”.
In addition to healthy diet programmes and physical activity initiatives for children and all family members, the ministry has launched many initiatives and programmes to raise awareness of the hazards of obesity and to help individuals make substantial changes to their lifestyles, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and risk factors associated with overweight and obesity.
As part of its efforts to expand the scope of outreach campaigns, the ministry launched the “Together We Move” campaign to promote physical activity among women of all ages. And in conjunction with the selective tax imposed on sweetened beverages and energy drinks by 50 percent and 100 percent respectively, MoHAP has launched two campaigns to enhance people’s awareness about the harmful effects of sweetened drinks.
The ministry has also enhanced its efforts to reach out to all society segments via social media platforms, where the official account of “Ma’kom Campaign” offers direct consultations and tips about healthy food, physical activity, and disease prevention, and healthy recipes, besides several contests to encourage healthy lifestyles.
This is in addition to organising several educational programmes, such as the “Junior Chef” contest and the Educational Virtual Workshops Programme, which was launched to ensure the continuity of public awareness efforts amid the pandemic. And as part of its keenness to engage the state’s authorities in health awareness efforts, the ministry organised the “Healthy and Positive Work Environment” initiative aimed at creating an environment supportive of the employees’ health and encouraging them to adopt healthy lifestyles.
Source: Emirates News Agency