Abu Dhabi: Have you seen this logo on your food items? Here’s what it means

As part of the programme, healthy vending machines have been introduced in schools and hospitals


Ashwani Kumar

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Mon 24 Jun 2024, 6:06 PM

Last updated: Wed 26 Jun 2024, 2:57 PM

Moving together towards creating a healthier future, hundreds of restaurants and food outlets, schools and hospitals, and supermarkets across the emirate of Abu Dhabi are promoting healthy eating habits as part of the SEHHI programme.

Launched less than two years back, the pioneering initiative by the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC) is aimed at boosting the health of community members by offering them suitable food choices.

“The programme has been started as part of our efforts to protect and prevent cardiovascular disease,” Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri, Executive Director of the Community Health Sector at ADPHC told Khaleej Times.

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Previously known as Weqaya, the SEHHI programme, through its blue-coloured logo and dedicated sections at participating entities, ensures easy identification of nutritious foods and ingredients.

“SEHHI consists of multiple elements. One of those is the healthy food labelling,” Dr Omniyat said about SEHHI (Arabic word for healthy). “It enables people to execute their right of choice, and select what is healthier and better for them as compared to other foods that could adversely affect their health in general.”

A movement that started with a dozen names has now grown to more than 300 restaurants and food outlets, all schools under the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK), all the healthcare facilities and hospitals, select hypermarkets, and more.

As part of the programme, calorie content has been displayed on the menus in restaurants and food outlets.

“We started with almost nothing. We had around 23 restaurants in the first year. That grew progressively, and now we are celebrating more than 300 participating entities and restaurants that are using our SEHHI logo on their menus for adults and some of them for children also,” Dr Omniyat said.

She noted that the initiative follows the prescribed nutritional guidelines for calories and gives details of the content that will be consumed.

Another element, as part of the programme, is the healthy vending machines introduced in schools and hospitals.

“It’s mandated in schools and hospitals but optional for other entities willing to participate. A healthy vending machine gives you freedom of choice to go for a healthier option, rather than the usual high calorie, high carbohydrate, and high-fat snacks that are being sold,” said Dr Omniyat.

Currently, only LuLu Hypermarkets have joined the programme, featuring SEHHI labels and sign boards.

“We applaud our colleagues in LuLu Hypermarkets for being the pioneers in adopting an element from SEHHI. They are participating actively through multiple branches, and different regions of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra,” Dr Omniyat stated.

LuLu Hypermarkets have SEHHI logos on healthy food items and dedicated corners for SEHHI food.

“They have also collaborated with us on altering the display methodology. So, you have the healthy food at eye level, instead of having to dig for it or go down to pick it up. They also supported us in the exit strategy. At selected branches, there will be at least 70 per cent healthy options near the cash counter. This enables people to see them on their way out and bargain with their kids as an alternative for an unhealthy snack,” she added.

Among other initiatives are the SEHHI guidelines for school canteens, health promotion activities, and other community mobilising programmes to offer healthy choices.

Dr Omniyat underlined that the blue SEHHI logo is an assurance of healthy food.

“We are targeting the whole population regardless of their awareness level. We give detailed information and simplify it to the maximum. If you are a person who isn’t interested in digging into details or don’t have the time to go through it because you’re shopping for multiple items, this big blue SEHHI logo tells you that it is a good choice.”

Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri
Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri

The programme is done in cooperation with all governmental departments and hundreds of private sector players.

“This is a drive to combat obesity and chronic diseases. It is a programme that has elements related to healthy eating, physical activity, managing stress, smoking cessation, and sleep hygiene. We are trying to spread healthy habits as much as we can,” Dr Omniyat noted.


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