The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), a Qatar Foundation initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), has identified childhood obesity as a significant issue in Qatar and is developing a flagship report to inform and influence policy that will improve the lives and wellbeing of children in the region.
Obesity can lead to long-term health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which can be distressing for individuals, life limiting and can put significant strain on health systems.
“Childhood obesity in Qatar: National policy proposal through multisectoral approaches” will be published in the first quarter of 2024, but initial findings were presented recently at the Eastern Mediterranean Region Healthy Cities Conference 2023, hosted by the MoPH and the World Health Organisation in Doha. The conference brought together international experts to help advance urban health strategies and lead the way towards healthier cities and communities across the region and beyond.
Speaking to conference delegates, Maha El Akoum, manager, Content and Policy at WISH, underscored the urgent need to tackle obesity in urban settings due to the long-term health risks.
“More than one billion people worldwide are obese, 39mn of them are children under the age of five, and 340mn are adolescents.
“In Qatar, childhood obesity affects 27.7% of the population. Given its multi-factorial nature, it is imperative that governments take a multi-sectoral approach to addressing this global epidemic, and for this reason, the report proposes a model that addresses policies at multiple levels and across a range of government sectors.”
The upcoming WISH and MoPH report aims to not only draw attention to childhood obesity in Qatar, where more than a quarter of children are clinically obese, with similar levels found in countries across the region but to also offer innovative solutions, particularly by suggesting ways that national policies can be developed to encourage healthy behaviours that lead to a decrease in the prevalence of obesity.
“Some examples of policies that we will be recommending in our report include evidence-based interventions at a governmental level such as restricting the marketing to children of food and drinks high in fats, sugar and salt, taxing unhealthy foods and drinks, and providing better access to affordable, healthy food,” El Akoum said.
Findings such as the impact and legacy of major sporting events on health and wellbeing in cities, how to address climate change in a dry, urban environment, and how to promote physical activity in cities across the region, will also be included in the report.
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