x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Curbs on advertising junk food proposed

Restrictions should be placed on advertisements for junk food to help reduce the number of deaths from heart-related illnesses, the director general of Sharjah medical zone has said.

SHARJAH // Restrictions should be placed on advertisements for junk food to help reduce the number of deaths from heart-related illnesses, the director general of Sharjah medical zone said yesterday. Sheikh Mohammed bin Saqr Al Qassimi said heart disease caused up to 51 per cent of deaths in the UAE, a figure mirrored in other Gulf states, including Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

"Chronic diseases associated with heart diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, are the major health challenges in our countries and it needs concerted efforts by all governments to overcome these challenges." A diet of fatty foods exacerbated the problem in developed countries and the Gulf region, he said, and restrictions on advertisements for fast foods could help in the fight against these diseases.

He said the Ministry of Health was undertaking a number of awareness campaigns to highlight the risk factors. These included incorporating health courses into school curriculums, encouraging people to exercise, launching an antismoking campaign and offering free medical tests. Addressing an international symposium on heart diseases at the Coral Beach hotel, Sheikh Mohammed said Al Qassimi Hospital alone had carried out 3,630 heart operations this year and many other patients had been referred outside the country for similar operations.

He added that about 240 children were born with heart-related diseases in the UAE each year, and up to 270 children needed surgical treatment.