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Schools complete healthy nutrition programme

Healthy nutrition programme tackles childhood obesity

Gulf News

Dubai: Ten government schools from a total of 29 have successfully completed the first phase of the healthy nutrition programme launched by Dubai Health Authority in September.

The programme tackles rising childhood obesity and promotes an active lifestyles among children.

Around 250 students from Dubai schools participated in a carnival on Wednesday at Zabeel Park with plays and musical performances based on the healthy nutrition theme.

The Ajyal Salima — meaning a sound generation — programme is a joint collaboration with the DHA, Dubai Education Zone, and Princess Haya Initiative for the Development of Health, Physical Education and School Sports, supported by Nestle Middle East.

The two-year programme is being rolled out in four phases in 13 boys’ and 16 girls’ schools.

The phases will involve awareness, workshops, and teacher training leading to the implementation of the programme in physical education curricula.

The 2011 figures from a national survey of Emirati and expatriate schoolchildren by the UAE Ministry of Health suggest that 15.5 per cent are obese, 39.2 per cent are overweight and 21 per cent consume fast food three times or more a day.

“We hope to conclude the first awareness phase with the remaining schools by the end of the academic year,” said Dr Fathia Hatim Al Mazmi, Head of Health Promotion Section from the DHA.

She told Gulf News, that Ajyal Salima is based on a global programme. “We are the second country in the Middle East to implement it after Lebanon.”

Ahmad Abdul Rahman, project manager and spokesperson of the Princess Haya Initiative, said targeting children is effective to inculcate good eating habits that will carry on into adulthood. “We hope to include private schools in the future after the two-year period,” he said.