The UAE is notorious for focusing on healthcare and is now delving into the fight against chronic diseases and other health issues headfirst.
Over the weekend, the country's Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) launched its first official set of National Nutrition Guidelines. The rules come in collaboration with the UAE's Food Security Office and aim at developing sustainable food safety systems and finding radical solutions to health challenges among several other goals.
The program comes at a time when the Gulf nation continues working on solving an obesity epidemic affecting millions of locals and a rise in the number of chronic illnesses, namely diabetes.
Here's all you need to know about it:
1. The program is the result of collaborations with several organizations
The guidelines were developed in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Gulf Nutrition Committee. Several local government bodies were also involved in pushing it forth.
In his statement on the matter, the UAE's Minister of Health and Prevention highlighted the fact that the rules are the result of a collaborative process between 18 national partners.
"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," he said.
The rules will help create a unified national reference for individuals and government entities and that will make it easier to raise awareness about the importance of prevention in health care.
2. The guidelines are expected to curb the UAE's chronic disease rate
The guidelines are expected to 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."
This is crucial in a country where obesity rates continue to skyrocket and diabetes and other chronic health issues are at a record high. Recent statistics revealed that an estimated 155,000 Emiratis suffer from diabetes. Around 31.7 percent of the UAE's population is considered obese.
The UAE has long been fighting its obesity epidemic. This year, the country's cabinet approved a mandatory food labeling policy to encourage healthier eating. Implementing the national health guidelines are now set to bolster these efforts even further.
3. The rules feature several aims and benefits
The guidelines come as part of the UAE's efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. This explains much of their aims - which are in line with international and regional policies and strategies - and they include:
- Enhancing health and education in the fields of nutrition and breastfeeding
- Strengthening and implementing legal frameworks to improve healthy nutrition
- Bolstering the nutritional status of the UAE's community
- Building a more sustainable, healthier future
- Reducing the prevalence of chronic and malnutrition diseases
- Scaling down non-communicable disease mortality rates
- Encouraging individuals to engage in exercise
- Stepping up food safety efforts
The implementation of the recently launched guidelines is set to benefit the UAE's government and population as it will result in the following:
- The minimization of the country's medical treatment costs
- Ensuring the safety and improved health of future generations
- Increasing the efficiency of production for all members of society
- Achieving food security in the country
- Enhancing life quality and sustainability
4. The program focuses on five guides
Latifa Rashid, Chairman of the National Nutrition Committee, explained that the guidelines are made up of five sections.
They are all related to adopting a healthier lifestyle and are categorized as follows:
- Supporting and promoting a healthy living system through healthy food and physical activity
- Maintaining healthy food intake at all stages of life
- Reducing calories resulting from high sugar, saturated and trans fats, and reduced salt intake
- Adopting healthy food patterns
- Achieving food safety
The guides are expected to soon circulate through all media and educational outlets in the country.