1 in 3 Children in UAE Overweight or Obese

Obesity rates among young people in the United Arab Emirates are continuously increasing. Currently one in three children is either overweight or obese. This was revealed by researchers when the findings of the Abu Dhabi Childhood Obesity Study were announced on Tuesday.

When compared to numbers recorded ten years ago, the study clearly shows an increasing trend of obesity in all age groups. The most common risk factors are also identified, according to the scientists. Abu Dhabi Childhood Obesity Study was carried out by researchers from the Zayed Military Hospital and the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at UAE University and included 1,440 children in school age from Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region. Doctors looked at 1,035 Emirati students and around 300 expatriates for a period of one year. They reported their body mass indexes (BMI), their age and gender, their food choices, as well as their physical activity and overall health. The eating habits and health statuses of their parents were also assessed.

According to the results, 34 percent of all participating children were either overweight (14.2), or obese (19.8). In addition, adolescents were the age group with the highest rates of obesity – around 40 percent of them were obese. The research also discovered that boys were more likely to be obese and girls were more likely to be overweight. The children in general consumed too few fruits and vegetables, and the rates of exercise were also insignificant. The study also found a link between parent’s weight and their children’s weight – a child with overweight or obese parents was 30 percent more likely to be heavy and to overeat. The scientists say that obesity is only partially genetically predisposed. What really matters is children’s lifestyle which is usually determined and modeled by parents’ habits and lifestyle. If you are overeating and avoiding exercise, your child will copy your example.

That’s why doctors stress on prevention, especially in families where parents are overweight. According to statistics, around 40 million children under the age of five are overweight globally. 30 percent of British and American kids are overweight, 38 percent in Europe, 27 percent in the Western Pacific, and 22 percent in Southeast Asia.

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