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Childhood Obesity




It is a known fact that childhood obesity is becoming an increasing problem. From a recent survey of 4,000 schoolchildren in the Arab Countries, aged between 6 and 16, they found that 25% of these were overweight or obese.

Teaching healthy behaviours to children at an early age has proved to be essential as change becomes more difficult with age. Behaviours involving physical activity and nutrition are the cornerstone of preventing obesity in children and adolescents. Families and schools are the two most critical links in providing the foundation of those behaviours.

Along with the rise in childhood obesity, there has been an increase in the incidence and prevalence of medical conditions in children and adolescents that had been rare in the past. Paediatricians and childhood obesity researchers are reporting more frequent cases of obesity related diseases such as high blood pressure, high blood fat, and irregularities in insulin levels, as well as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. If this epidemic goes unchecked, the burden on public health spending will grow as children with obesity become young people with diabetes, and the costly complications of their condition develop. Early prevention is clearly our best option. In the Arab Countries, the prevention of type 2 diabetes in young people through the reduction of childhood obesity remains a major public health challenge. The Ministry of Health has developed educational programmes to raise awareness amongst healthcare providers about the prevention and management of diabetes.


Prevention of Obesity

  • Create an active environment. Take time for the entire family to participate in regular activities that everyone enjoys. In the cooler months, bike riding or walking could be enjoyed or, in warmer climates, ice skating or learning to play indoor squash.

  • Assign active household duties such as hoovering or car washing. Rotate the duties to avoid boredom. Make it fun by turning it into a game or a race to finish first!

  • Enrol your child into a class activity such as Martial Arts or table tennis.

  • Encourage your child to participate in after school clubs such as netball or football.

  • Limit the amount of television your child watches. Likewise with gaming equipment such as Playstation or xBox Consoles.

    Create a Healthy Eating environment

  • Implement the same healthy diet for the whole family, not just the selected individual.

  • Plan food menu’s together with your child and discuss their preferences.

  • Eat meals together at the table and at regular times.

  • Avoid rushing meals. Eating too quickly does not allow enough time to digest or to register a sense of feeling full.

  • Avoid other activities at mealtimes, such as watching television.

  • Avoid foods high in calories, fat or sugar.

  • Have snack foods available such as bite size fruits and vegetables or yogurt.

  • Do not serve large meal portions.

  • Avoid using food as a reward or punishment.

  • Do not force your child to eat if they are not hungry. Consult a Healthcare Professional if they are persistently not hungry.

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