UAE Resolves to Watch its Weight

DUBAI - The Ministry of Health and UNICEF, as part of a national campaign to fight obesity among children in the UAE, will push for policies to regulate advertisement campaigns of the fast food industry and its labelling system.

By Sajila Saseendran (

Published: Wed 22 Apr 2009, 1:54 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:17 AM

According to the World Health Organisation, the UAE is among the most obese nations in the world, owing largely to sedentary lifestyles and over indulgence in junk food. The problem is alarming among children.

“We aim to identify all stakeholders and send them the message that each of them has a responsibility in working together … by involving communities, families, schools, the food industry and the media,” UNICEF’s Ayman Abu Laban said on Monday.

Speaking to Khaleej Times at the launch of the Fat Truth campaign, Dr. Abu Laban said, “We will be holding workshops and discussions addressing the food industry. Nobody should take advantage of the fact that children like chocolates and fast food items.”

The Gulf Area representative of UNICEF added, “Hopefully, there will be regulation on the ads targeting children and the nutritional information to be printed on labels and menus.”

The Minister of Health, Humaid Mohammed Obeid Al Qutami, said in response that the ministry would hold discussions with municipalities and representatives of the food industry on the consumption of fatty food. “First, we will have a phase of awareness.”

The CEO for Health Legislations and Policies at MoH, Dr. Mahmoud Fikri, said the ministries of health and education had formed a committee to monitor school canteens and follow up on overweight students and those at risk.

In the next three months, the campaign will organise various programmes in schools in cooperation with the Knowledge and Human Development Authority and Dubai Sports Council. From October, the campaign will focus on other emirates as well. Educational leaflets will be distributed in malls and clinics. A website (, and media campaigns will be launched to increase awareness.

The UAE now ranks 10th in the list of overweight countries — not including South Pacific Island nations. According to WHO’s Global School Health Survey in 2005, 12.1 percent of UAE children are obese and over 20 percent are at risk.

Launched under the patronage of Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the national campaign seeks to involve all stakeholders in the health of children.

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