DM drive to make parents aware of obesity

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DM drive to make parents aware of obesity

About 4,000 people register online in four days for Dubai Municipality's Your Child in Gold initiative.

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Published: Tue 15 Jul 2014, 12:25 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 6:56 AM

Dubai’s slimming campaign that gives away gold for obese kids to shed the flab may have raised some eyebrows with a section of health experts reportedly coming down on the idea, saying parents might push kids too hard to lose weight to gain the precious metal.

However, organisers of Dubai Municipality’s “Your Child in Gold” campaign, the second edition of last summer’s “Your Weight in Gold” drive, say the intention is to help fight childhood obesity in an innovative and healthy way.


Who are eligible to participate?

The registration is open to all, irrespective of age, nationality and residency. Families can register as a group of maximum four people including parents and two children aged up to 13 years. Others can register as individual participants.

Can overweight children aged above 13 participate?

Yes. They can enroll as individual participants. However, neither they nor their parents would get the benefit of doubling the weight of gold gifted even if they lose two kilos or more.

What is the benefit of registering as a family?

If a child in a participating family loses a minimum of two kilos, all members in the group will get two grammes of gold, instead of one given to individual participants for each kilo shed.

How can one enroll?

Participants from any emirate in the UAE need to register online on the campaign’s website and take a printout of the filled form to one of the designated sites in Dubai. There their weight will be measured to complete the registration. Remember to carry your Emirates ID.

Where are the registration sites?

Registration will be open from July 15 to 24, 9pm to midnight, at Al Mamzar jogging track, Al Khawaneej jogging track, gate 3, Safa Park, gate 2, Zabeel Park, gate 3, and Al Barsha Park main entrance. Participants will get text messages about the date and place where they have to go to measure their final weight after the campaign from September 10 to 15.

“This is an awareness campaign which also motivates overweight people with rewards to shed weight and stay fit,” said Dubai Municipality Club’s manager Waleed Al Shaibani, who is coordinating the drive.

“The municipality’s intention is to spread awareness about the need for regular physical activities and healthy diets and help form a healthy generation. This time, we are focusing on families so that the message reaches out to children as well. We wish to educate them on how to address the obesity issue caused by bad lifestyle and addiction to TV, Internet and other electronic devices. When they participate as a group, there is a lot more fun and motivation.”

According to the World Health Organisation, the UAE has one of the highest rates of obesity with 67 per cent of men and 72per cent of women either overweight or obese. The country is also ranked 15th globally with 18.98 per cent of the population suffering from diabetes, according to the World Diabetes Union 2013, Al Shaibani said.

“The nation has spent so far around $6 billion for the treatment for diabetes-related problems,” he pointed out.

Childhood obesity has also reached alarming proportions in the UAE. Various government departments, especially in Dubai, have been making policy changes to promote physical exercise, an active lifestyle and healthy diet for schoolchildren to protect the young generation from chronic illnesses and aid their overall development and confidence.

“Dubai aims to be one of the healthiest cities in the world. To achieve this big goal, we need to change our food habits and promote physical activities, reducing lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, cholesterol and diabetes,” Al Shaibani said.

Mohammed Al Noori, director, partnerships department at the municipality, said it’s important for the public to realise the government’s concern.

“We are doing this campaign to promote the health of people and we are motivating them with a special reward. It’s a commitment. It teaches people to have self-discipline to reach their target. We want more healthy people on the streets and we need people, especially children, to feel fit and enjoy life more.”

Ahmed bin Sulayem, executive chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre which increased its sponsorship of the campaign to Dh150,000 worth of gold from last year’s Dh100,000, agreed.

“The ultimate aim is to make fitness our culture, a part of the life of people in the UAE,” he said. “The purpose is to get people to work out every day. Gold is just an added reward. Your health is worth more than gold and your kid’s health is even more valuable.”

Apart from focusing on physical activities, officials said the campaign would give tips on healthy eating habits.

“There is a lot of added sugar in most of the things we buy from supermarkets. If they get the right information, kids get to understand that (sugar is) as bad as cigarettes,” said Bin Sulayem.

Dr. Najiba Al Shezawy, a consultant with Professionals Regulatory Affairs that runs the campaign for the municipality, said the drive aims to address childhood obesity in an innovative way.

“More than 70 per cent of the kids here are overweight or obese. It is a major health issue in the UAE. We want to raise awareness among parents on how to tackle this, how to take care of their children in a better way, and help them manage their weight problems.”

Guidelines for kids

She said the campaign has special guidelines on nutrition and fitness for children: “We don’t want parents to push kids to lose weight just for the gold and I am sure parents wouldn’t do it either. Our guidelines will help them reduce weight in a healthy way.”

The guidelines make it mandatory for at least one parent to be present with their overweight children at the time of registration and sign an undertaking that holds them responsible for a healthy slimming regime for their kids who are participating.

“It is the responsibility of parents to help child get to the healthy weight target during the specified period. They cannot push kids to resort to unhealthy ways of losing weight,” Dr Al Shezawy said.

Participants have to abide by certain terms and conditions. These can be read on the campaign’s website and will be made available at the registration sites from Tuesday.

“We are also providing a lot of weight loss tips through healthy diets and right exercises. There are specific tips for children as well.”

At the enrolment sites in designated parks, a special corner will be dedicated to child participants. “We will have nutritionists to make sure the children enrolling are overweight or obese. They will assess the children’s health and pass on brochures with our guidelines and tips.”

Al Shaibani said children must get medical advice from the nutritionists on site prior to registering for the contest in order to confirm their fitness to participate.

After registration, the campaign will see regular events to promote physical activities. “We will have different activities and will advise the participants to join us in these events, which we will hold in parks. There will be specific activities for child participants,” Dr Al Shezawy added.

The participating children will be given gifts apart from the final gold. “We know kids would be excited to get other gifts also. So, we are arranging that as well with the (help) of the companies supporting the campaign,” Dr Al Shezawy said.

What if the parents ultimately decide to trade the gold won to buy something else for their kids?

“It’s their call,” said Al Noori, when his attention was drawn to the fact that some of the winners last year had sold the custom-made coins they won. “It is ideally a souvenir. But it is the winners’ call to do w But that is not our concern. We want them to cherish their better health as the better prize.”

This year’s campaign has already received a huge response with about 4,000 people registering online in just four days after the drive was announced. Al Shaibani said the municipality is expecting around 15,000 total registrations.

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