Health authorities seek to foster a sustainable healthy lifestyle and reinforce the food security to improve the quality of life of the UAE society. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Dubai The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has launched, in collaboration with the UAE’s Food Security Office, the National Nutrition Guidelines to develop food safety systems in sustainable ways, find out radical solutions to health challenges and achieve the innovation-based food security, especially for the strategic trend related to the improvement of nutrition systems.

Developed in coordination with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Gulf Nutrition Committee, and effective participation from the concerned government bodies, the new guidelines aim to improve the nutritional status of the UAE community for a more sustainable and healthier future.

It also aims at reducing the prevalence of chronic and malnutrition diseases, scaling down non-communicable disease mortality rates and encouraging individuals to engage in physical activities to step up food safety efforts.

National Health Indicators

Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said: “MoHAP, along with the Food Security Office and partners in the Supreme Nutrition Committee, is working in accordance with the UAE Government directives in terms of fostering a sustainable healthy lifestyle and reinforcing the food security to improve the quality of life of the UAE society.”

“We are expecting that the National Nutrition Guidelines will help curb rates of chronic diseases, improve the outcomes of the national health indicators, and reduce obesity among children and adolescents as per the National Agenda 2021,” added Al Owais.

This comes as part of the country’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development objectives 2030, in accordance with international and regional policies and strategies which aim to enhance health and education in the fields of nutrition and breastfeeding, as well as to strengthen and implement the legal frameworks to safeguard and bolster healthy nutrition.

Sustainable Solutions

Al Owais highlighted the importance of releasing the guidelines, the fruit of joint efforts of 18 national partners, including the Supreme Nutrition Committee, in collaboration with WHO.

The Health Minister pointed out that the release of the guidelines was based on the outputs of a national workshop held in late May, in preparation for the National Nutrition Strategic Plan, as well as in government accelerators-related guidelines, in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, and active participation of Health Authorities in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, in addition to the Food Security Office.

Integrated Roadmap

Achieving the objectives of the National Nutrition Guidelines relies on the implementation of policies and programmes for improving the nutritional status as part of agreed frameworks at the Second International Conference on Nutrition in Rome 2014, Non-Communicable Diseases Strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and WHO’s recommendations.

Implementing this guideline would help minimide treatment costs, ensure safety and health of new generations, increase the efficiency of production for all members of society, achieve food security in the country, enhance life quality and sustainability.

Community Culture

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, said: “The National Nutrition Guidelines is a concrete step towards the upbringing of healthy generations, and it helps consolidate the proper-nutrition-based healthy lifestyle in the UAE. Nutrition is one of the key pillars of the National Food Security Strategy through the activation of relevant policies and legislation to the improvement of nutrition for all individuals.”

“This requires educating society by highlighting the importance of this guideline and turning its components into a personal goal for each one in the society, in addition to making healthy nutrition an intergenerational community culture,” Almheiri underlined.

The Minister of State for Food Security added: “Partnering with MoHAP, Department of Health in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah had a great impact on enriching discussions, developing solutions, and sharing experiences. These efforts resulted in releasing this guideline as to serve as a meaningful approach for the entire society in order to realize better nutrition for healthier generations. And we are looking forward to holding further partnerships to achieve the nutrition objective across the country.”

National Reference

Dr Youssif Al Serkal, Assistant Undersecretary for the Ministry’s Hospitals Sector, said: “The National Nutrition Guidelined are forming a unified national reference for individuals and government entities to raise community awareness about healthy eating behaviour and prevention of lifestyle-related diseases, including malnutrition and obesity, to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases and to develop sustainable solutions to health and nutritional challenges.”

“Implementing this guide will also help realise the strategic objectives in terms of improving the health status of community members, thus increasing their productivity levels in education, labour market efficiency, business prosperity, innovation and quality of life,” he underlined.

Five guides

Latifa Rashid, Chairman of the National Nutrition Committee, stated that the National Nutrition Guidelines have been developed following the review of several regional and global food guidelines. It consists of five guides:

  • To support and promote a healthy living system through healthy food and physical activity
  • To maintain healthy food intake at all stages of life
  • To reduce calories resulting from high sugar, saturated and trans fats, and reduced salt intake.
  • Adopt healthy food patterns
  • Achieve food safety

Rashid pointed to the importance of circulating the Nutrition Guides as a national document for food education, by disseminating it through all media and educational outlets.

She added: “This guideline is also constituting healthy food reference for patients and can be used in nutrition clinics to design patients’ meals according to their health status. It is a reliable source for educational and social institutions, sports clubs and summer centres.”

It could also be sent to the Gulf, Arab and international health organisations and relevant food authorities to benefit from it.

The chairman of the National Nutrition Committee pointed out that the guidelines include healthy diet programmes about what should be taken for meals according to age and gender, in addition to the importance of reducing the consumption of foods high in sugar, salt and fat, especially saturated and hydrogenated fats.

It also contributes to the fight against diseases of malnutrition and reduces obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, anemia, osteoporosis, vitamin deficiency.