Obesity rate declines among children in Dubai: Survey
Dubai - The study showed that about 10.1% of the total students in private schools in the academic year 2014-15 were obese.
Obesity prevalence among Dubai school students has declined by 1.2 per cent over the past three years, according to a study published recently. Dubai achieved this after introducing interventional programmes such as food labelling and physical activities.
The study, titled 'Obesity intervention at school settings, mobilisations, family engagement and behavioural approach', included 260,000 students in the age ranges of 5-18 years (grades 1-12). Students from 180 private schools in Dubai were studied over the course of three academic years from 2014-15.
Dr Hamid Yahya Hussain, consultant, physician and professor at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), who was part of the study, said obesity is one of the main problems in Dubai, especially among children. "The study was undertaken so that we could understand the prevalence of obesity in the emirate. It is a priority," he said.
The study showed that about 10.1 per cent of the total students in private schools in Dubai in the academic year 2014-15 were obese. Obesity prevalence during the academic year 2015-16 was 9.88 per cent and during the academic year 2016-17, it was 8.9 per cent.
Body Mass Index (BMI) measurement was used at the beginning of each academic year (September) to measure the obesity levels.
"Multi-approach public health intervention for childhood obesity is significant," said Dr Yahya. "Interventions need to be revised, re-assessed, monitored and there is a need for strengthening sustainable long-term approach through governmental and nongovernmental accountability."
He said school environments should act as a platform for monitoring obesity through adopting a multi-approach strategy from home, which includes raising the awareness about obesity among parents. "There should be obvious action plans for healthy diet and physical activity," added Dr Yahya.
Programmes that helped Dubai kids beat the bulge
>School canteen policies: A guidance manual to improve the nutritional standard of food served or sold in schools
>Food labelling: Guidelines to ensure that children have access to nutritious, safe and wholesome food during their school time
>Happy schools initiatives: An award to recognise schools that have made achievements in supporting the health and wellbeing of students
>City Makers' Sky Blue team: It comprises of representatives from the Dubai Education Zone, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Sports Council and Knowledge and Human Development Authority.
>Health awareness campaigns: Periodic campaigns to boost awareness about healthy eating among students
>School nutritional education activities: Raise awareness of students about the nutrient quotient in foods
> Awareness campaigns for parents
Decline of obesity among kids
>2014-15: 10.1% kids were obese
>2016-17: 8.9 per cent