Dubai, UAE: A recent study conducted in the UAE demonstrated that the incidence of overweight/obese children (combined) is approximately 20% among the age group 6-10 years old, and about 40% among 11-19 years old in the UAE. Suffering from obesity or excess weight as a child could bring about chronic conditions as adults such as diabetes and hypertension.
Parent’s recognition of their children’s obesity issues is important, as they play an instrumental role in the management and prevention of this condition. Childhood obesity is increasingly becoming a public health challenge in the UAE that must be addressed with diligence.
According to Dr Abdishakur Abdulle, Associate Director – Public Health Research Center, New York University Abu Dhabi, UAE, “Parental involvement is a key factor in the deterrence and management of childhood obesity, thus parental recognition of weight problems is vital. Yet, the majority of parents of overweight/obese children usually underestimate their children’s weight condition. This poses a clear obstacle to prevention, thus obesity prevention programs should take into account the important role of parents in developing national prevention strategies for childhood obesity.”
Dr Abdulle will be speaking about childhood obesity at the Paediatrics Conference at Arab Health Congress, the region’s largest healthcare exhibition and congress, from 26-29 January 2015 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibitions Center.
The findings of the study indicate that higher BMI percentile among children is directly associated with higher blood pressure levels. And, that although the authors, including Dr Abdulle, could not establish a causal effect, these results lend weight to the hypothesis that the obesity epidemic is likely to become a harbinger for chronic diseases in the future.
“Clearly, the prevalence of childhood obesity is not only high across all ages of children and adolescents in the UAE, but is also associated with higher blood pressure. Obstacles to prevention include parental misperceptions. Together, such findings warrant the development of a better prevention strategy to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity,” commented Dr Abdulle.