A healthy lifestyle begins with family, says expert - GulfToday

A healthy lifestyle begins with family, says expert


Farmer emphasised the value of the bottom-up approach against NCDs in children and the youth.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

DUBAI: The battle against the persistence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) lies within families and schools, according to visiting NCD Child chairperson Dr Mychelle Farmer.

She was interviewed on Tuesday ahead of the workshop on “Community Presentation: NCDs, Family Experiences in Sharjah” on the second and last day of the landmark “Global Forum on Non-Communicable Diseases for Children and Youth” attended by Taryam Omran Secondary School pupil Abdullah Al Marzooqi, Batayeh School in Sharjah students Matar Obaid and Abdullah Mubarak, and Friends for Diabates-Sharjah vice president Dr Elham Al Amiri.

Al Marzooki accredited the strong support he had received from the administration and medical and nursing staff of his school who had assisted him in defeating diabetes.

Obaid and Mubarak shared their personal stories on how they stubbed the cigarette with their school medical and nursing personnel by their side and monitoring them.

Adolescence Medicine practitioner Farmer told Gulf Today: “In the NCD, prevention is very important. Majority of the antecedents of NCDs occur in childhood and adolescence.” She continued: “We have to be comprehensive in our approach thinking broadly about those antecedents that are precursors to NCDs including air pollution, both indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand smoke, the elimination of tobacco use and the use of (electronic) cigarettes, unsafe use and availability of all kinds of alcohol and alcoholic beverages to the youth.” Farmer said families and schools are the most basic starting points for the inculcation of healthy lifestyles that border on healthy food and healthy diet and which are big contributory factors in obtaining sound mental health for satisfactory performance and productivity in schools at the minimum.

Giving the forum participants an overview of the two-day assembly on Monday and prior to the opening ceremonies, Farmer emphasised the value of the bottom-up approach against NCDs in children and the youth.

This, she said, would assist governments, specifically health and education ministries in the decision and policy-making procedures leading to effective programme implementations.

On tackling obesity and overweight, Farmer reiterated what medical and health experts have always mentioned: active lifestyle that calls for outdoor rest, recreation and fun.

“We would like to think that schools and families are important places for learning for all these,” Farmer said.

From the workshops, the youth participants and adult health advocates talked over Type 2 diabetes and its correlation to obesity in children and insulin resistance. The children know very well that through the help of their parents, they must limit their fast food intakes and high caloric food and food with hydrogenated oil.

The children know also that awareness campaigns against smoking, including second-hand or passive smoking would help them a lot in imbibing a healthy lifestyle.

Speaking on behalf of the Friends of Diabetes, Al Amiri said: “We have organised and launched many initiatives to combat diabetes and ways to prevent it. We have targeted schools and pupils to encourage them to adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle and encourage them to exercise more.” The workshops were held so that all stakeholders namely private individuals specifically health experts including those in the education sector as well as government unite under one national umbrella for the prevention of NCDs in children.

The World Health Organization defines NCDs as the preventable chronic life-long illnesses caused by hypertension or raised blood pressure, overweight and obesity, hyperglycaemia or high blood glucose levels, and hyperlipidemia or high rates of fats in the blood. These affect the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and also come in the form of cancers and diabetes.

According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Number 3 that “ensures healthy living and promotes well-being for all at all ages,” all member-governments of the international body must have reduced by one-third premature mortality from NCDs through prevention and treatment by 2030 which is 11 years from now.