The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) held a smart clinic to raise awareness about childhood obesity and its related health problems.
Obesity is known to be a risk factor for a number of chronic diseases and experts at the smart clinic focused on the link between childhood obesity and obesity in adulthood.
Dr Sobhy ElSayed Kotb, consultant pediatrician at Dubai Hospital, said: “Obesity and overweight are main risk factors for a number of chronic conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. However, it is important to note that obese children are more likely to be obese adults. According to several studies, in the UAE, about 20 per cent of children in the age group of 5 to 10 years are either overweight or obese and 40 per cent of the children in the age group of 11 to 18 years are overweight or obese.”
Overall, this means that one third of all children in the UAE are either overweight or obese. Globally also, the prevalence is almost the same. This is a very worrying scenario because it means a significant percentage of our future generation are likely to suffer from several lifestyle diseases, which will affect the quality of their life and will be a burden on the health sector. Therefore, our message to parents is to take childhood obesity seriously. It is not okay to give fast foods such as fries and sugar-laden sweets to children, especially on a regular basis. It has low nutrition value and increases the fatty cells in the body,” he added.
Dr. Kotb highlighted that according to various studies conducted globally, obese children may be at increased risk of becoming obese adults.
Dr. Kotb said that “Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. “They are also more likely to have prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of diabetes. Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as poor self-esteem. In the long run, children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and osteoarthritis.”
Fighting childhood obesity:
Dr Fatima Saeed Al Khurousi, Senior Clinical Dietician at Dubai Hospital said, that “Children should be provided healthy foods from a young age and fast-foods should be limited. Moreover, fast-foods should not be considered as a treat. “However, it is important to remember that the goal for overweight and obese children and teens is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Children and teens should never be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider.”
“Parents should cut out the unhealthy fats and sweets and they should prepare their children’s favourite meals in a healthier manner. Parents should cut out juices and other unnecessary sources of sugar from their children’s diet and they should replace it with complex carbohydrates and natural sugars. They should provide their children lean sources of meat and limit portion sizes. These are simple steps that go a long way in reducing weight without compromising on your child’s growth and nutrition,” she added.
Al Khurousi added that “Children’s lunch boxes should have healthy nutritious meals and finally parents need to adopt a healthy lifestyle because children mirror what they see. At the end of the day if parents eat unhealthy meals, children will do the same. It’s as simple as that.”