Endemic problems of obesity and inactive lifestyles were among the topics discussed by attendees at the region’s first ‘excellence in paediatrics’ conference yesterday.
The event, organised by Switzerland-based Excellence in Paediatrics Institute (EiP), was sponsored by Sidra Medical and Research Centre.
Discussion around best practices for combating obesity and encouraging more active lifestyles, topics that are invariably intertwined across the globe but more markedly so in the region, resulted in some recommendations that could be replicated across countries.
Healthcare professionals agree that behaviour and lifestyle are the biggest indicators for obesity, resulting in a host of healthcare complications - from heart disease to colon cancer.
According to Barbara Livingstone, professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Ulster, who spoke at event: “The causes of childhood obesity are as varied as the children it affects. Over 30 potential risk factors for childhood obesity have been described, although a few are supported by good quality evidence. Heredity plays a role in childhood obesity but generally to a much lesser degree than many people might believe.”
She said unfortunately, in many countries around the globe, the environment has become increasingly toxic to maintaining a healthy weight and been labelled “obesogenic or obesity-causing”, which includes sedentary behaviour, lack of sleep and the quality and quantity of the diet.
Dr Robert Sallis, family physician practising at Kaiser Permanente Medical Centre, the largest managed care organisation in the US, and past-president of the American College of Sports Medicine, described the novel “Exercise is Medicine” approach to treating obesity and promoting healthy lifestyles. “The problem of physical inactivity is a global pandemic with far-reaching health, economic, environmental and social consequences. Imagine if we were talking about any other disease, calling it a pandemic would cause an outcry for action. Exercise is the medicine and the prescription is 30 minutes, five times a week for adults or 60 minutes a day for kids.”
Dr Sallis pointed out that the sedentary death syndrome - the inactivity epidemic - is quite a real phenomenon. “Doctors should be educating patients on the benefits of exercise beyond weight loss. We have been so focused on the pills and procedures that the discussion about changing lifestyles has moved off the public agenda,” he said.
As the problem of obesity and sedentary lifestyles puts a significant number of people in the Middle East at risk for health complications, Dr Paulina Nowicka, member of the Childhood Obesity Taskforce of the European Association for the Study of Obesity, called for abstract submissions for the European Congress on Obesity taking place on May 28-31 (2014) in Sofia, Bulgaria - the first time a session on obesity in the Arab world will be included in the programme.
Deadline for submissions is January 10, 2014.
As obesity continues to be a growing problem in Qatar, the Supreme Council of Health is aiming to combat this significant health concern.
The government plans to implement Project 3.2 Nutrition and Physical Activity under the National Health Strategy with the aim of bringing about behavioural changes to reduce the rate of obesity.
Sidra is contributing to raising awareness in Qatar and the region by hosting medical education events as part of the Sidra Symposia Series.
Sidra and EiP welcomed more than 1,500 attendees from over 80 countries and gave special recognition to speakers and facilitators who made the event possible.
Sidra’s Communications director Khalid al-Mohannadi was the recipient of the EiP Excellence Award for significant contribution to linking the world of medicine and public health to ensure that work done by researchers and academics is translated into action for
“Conferences like EiP go a long way in bringing world-class medical education to the region and Sidra is proud to help make this event a reality,”
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