Abu Dhabi: The UAE needs to implement a multi-disciplinary national approach to help curb the growing number of overweight and obese children, who are reported to develop Type 2 diabetes as early as 15 years of age, agreed health professionals at the 6th Middle East Healthcare Innovation Summit 2011.

During the interactive panel discussion on ‘Tackling Diabetes' a recent study conducted by the UAE Ministry of Health, Centre for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that in 2005, 12.1 per cent of school children (from Kindergarten to Grade 12) were obese and 21.5 per cent overweight.

The same study was repeated in 2010 - showing 15.5 per cent of school children obese and 39.2 per cent overweight.

The ministry has issued a 10-year strategy plan (2009 - 2018) two years ago as part of a cabinet decree to help prevent obesity, diabetes and smoking amongst youth before its onset, according to Dr. Salah Al Badawi, Director Diabetes Control Programme, health ministry.

"We have 13 indicators or milestones that we follow as part of our strategy plan to help curb diabetes some of which includes a mission to help reduce the number of overweight individuals across the UAE by one per cent every year and increase physical activity by two per cent yearly," said Dr Al Badawi at the two-day summit which kicked off on Sunday.

Health experts during Sunday's Middle East Health Care Innovation Summit 2011, all agreed that 40 of the insurance companies across the UAE do not have control over diseases that require long term coverage, and a call out to start offering coverage for certain devices and/or medication related to diabetes was made.

For instance a glucometer - a medical device used to determine the approximate concentration of glucose in the blood is not covered by most insurance companies, despites its level of importance for a diabetic.