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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Abu Dhabi forum looks for new tools to take on obesity challenge 

Experts gather for first Abu Dhabi conference on childhood obesity crisis

Thirty-seven per cent of UAE residents are classified obese thanks to poor lifestyle choices. Sammy Dallal / The National
Thirty-seven per cent of UAE residents are classified obese thanks to poor lifestyle choices. Sammy Dallal / The National

Health experts will examine new ideas at a two-day Abu Dhabi forum to try to halt the childhood obesity epidemic that has a firm grip over the UAE.

Specialists in the field will unite at the Abu Dhabi Child Obesity Forum on 10 to 11 December at the Sofitel, Abu Dhabi Corniche to look at new methods of how to tackle the problem.

According to the World Obesity Federation, child obesity cases will continue to rise in the Emirates, affecting 14.62 per cent of those under 20 by 2025, up from 12.40 per cent in 2013.

Globally, the growing issue of obesity has afflicted 50 million infants and 250m school-age children.

“We will need to ask ourselves: what is our 20-year vision? What is our five-year plan? And what will we start tomorrow?" said Dr Tim Lobstein, director of policy, The World Obesity Federation.

“Can we see Abu Dhabi as the first state to reverse the trend in childhood obesity, across the target age range and among rich and poor alike? I believe we can.’’

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The UAE ranks third in the Middle East of the countries with the greatest prevalence of obesity, with 37 per cent of residents classed as obese.

A 2012 study published by BMC Public Health Journal placed the UAE as the fifth most obese country in the world.

The forum aims to dissect the different aspects of the fight against childhood obesity, including examining the role of food providers.

It will look to try new methods of enhancing obesity assessment and management programmes, boosting physical activity of children at home and in schools, encouraging them to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Experts meeting at the forum will be hoping to use the latest data and technology to bring education and communication campaigns to life.

For more information, visit www.childhoodobesityforum.com

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