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TradeArabia News Service: Shell award to focus on child obesity

Posted: Sunday, February 11, 2007  
Hussain Al Mahmoudi 
Dubai

Shell plans to leverage the Better Environment Award (BEA) 2007 platform to generate greater awareness about the problem of child obesity in the UAE.

The 12th edition of the BEA, the UAE’s foremost initiative aimed at addressing and raising awareness of environmental issues, also focuses on several other pertinent issues afflicting society, in addition to child obesity.

Recent statistics released by the UAE Ministry of Health reveal that 26 per cent of children in the country are obese.

This high prevalence of obesity among UAE children is attributed to a lack of exercise and an over-dependence on fast food. The alarming increase in child obesity cases in the UAE necessitates urgent measures to tackle the problem.

The scope of BEA 2007 has been expanded to make it more challenging and to foster the conceptualising of a wider range of initiatives under environmental, health and road safety themes. Schools were invited to submit project ideas on the three themes – Health, Safety and Environment.

A choice of two subjects was given under each theme. Students had to select between ‘Vehicles Safety’ and ‘Pedestrians Safety’ under the theme of ‘Road Safety’; between ‘Shores Environment’ and ‘Toxic Waste’ under the Environment theme; and between ‘Obesity’ and ‘Smoking’ under the Health theme.

Better Environment Award 2007 attracted applications from 149 schools across the UAE. The judging panel released a shortlist on December 18, 2006, announcing names of participating schools that are eligible to receive funding from Shell for implementing their proposals.

Winners will be announced in May 2007 after evaluating projects for their thoroughness and effectiveness.

“Though the exact causes of childhood obesity are yet to be fully researched, it is well established that obesity occurs when energy intake levels exceed energy expenditure levels,” said head of External Affairs and HSSE (Health, Safety, Security and Environment), Shell, Hussain Al Mahmoudi.

“Studies reveal that obese children undertake low to moderate levels of vigorous physical activity as compared to their non-obese counterparts. Studies also associate low levels of vigorous physical activity and increased TV watching with obesity,” he added.

The various measures being considered to tackle obesity among children at the global level include protecting children from the onslaught of unhealthy marketing campaigns through the Internet, viral marketing, in-school promotions or existing television marketing; applying mandatory nutritional and activity standards in schools; removing trade distortions which favour over-production of fats and sugars, and switching support for increased fruit and vegetable production. TradeArabia News Service

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