Ministry seeks to end transfats in food supply, stunted growth by 2030 - GulfToday

Ministry seeks to end transfats in food supply, stunted growth by 2030


Officials and representatives of various entities who are collaborating for the MoHaP-led "United Arab Emirates National Nutrition Strategy 2022-2030” at the Etihad Museum in Dubai. Kamal Kassim/Gulf Today

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

The availability and accessibility of affordable healthy food are factors for the state of the population and nations and so a technical committee, formed to pursue and activate the goals of the "United Arab Emirates National Nutrition Strategy 2022-2030,” has scheduled a February 2023 "stakeholder’s workshop” with the food and beverage (F&B) industry, according to a Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) official.

This is the second nutrition strategy. The first was from 2017 to 2021.

MoHaP-Health Promotion Department acting director Nouf Khamis Al Ali who leads the technical committee also told reporters that while the use of trans-fats shall ultimately be banned, the desired reduction levels of sugar and salt in all food products, beneficial to all, shall take time.

Al Ali was interviewed after the recent launch of the UAE’s eight-year national nutrition strategy at the Etihad Museum in Dubai. She said the F&B players are among the collaborators in the initiative:

"They have been part of the development of this strategy. The first step is done with the F&B. (In the 2023 workshop), it is how we are going to move now from where we are, to how we are going to achieve (our ambitions). We are going to work with them on a timeline and make sure that we are going to (realise) our targets.”


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Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Health and Prevention Abdulrahman Bin Mohamed Al Owais stressed the commitment of the government agency to "make every possible effort to decrease the prevalence of (lifestyle diseases)” through collaboration with stakeholders.

MoHaP Minister adviser Dr. Salem Al Darmaki said: "(This is) the roadmap for all necessary collaborative approaches, undertaking all of the best and most appropriate comprehensive food and nutrition standards, in accordance with global guidelines, as the UAE leadership as well, continually moves towards food security and sustainable environments.”

Twenty-two entities are enjoined in this second strategy towards malnutrition prevention and the weeding out of all diet-related non-communicable diseases risk factors eight years from now.

According to the media brochure, by 2030 is the "virtual elimination of industrial trans-fats from the food supply;” stunted growth among children between ages five and below caused by poor nutrition, repeated infection and inadequate psychosocial stimulation that severely affect cognitive, language and social skills; and overweight among children under five years old, should have dwindled down.

Moreover, 30 per cent of low birth weight, 30 per cent of salt intake among the general population and 50 per cent of anaemia levels among women must have been decreased; 55 per cent increase in exclusive breastfeeding must have been achieved; while incidence rates of diabetes, obesity and overweight among the youth and students as well as adults, must have been substantially addressed, if not totally eradicated.

These, in contrast to the accumulated records which Al Ali presented at the forum: 51 per cent of babies born in the UAE are not benefitting from exclusive breastfeeding in their first six months; 17 per cent of children between six and 17 years old are obese; 38 per cent of the 13 to 17 years old are overweight; 68 per cent of adults are overweight while 28 per cent are obese; 24.9 per cent of women of reproductive age are anaemic; 52 per cent of adults are suffering from cardiovascular diseases; 67 per cent of adults love salty food; only 17 per cent of adults eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day; and 71 per cent of adults lead sedentary lives and are in no way engaging in physical exercises.

Al Ali clarified during the interview that the data presented were from the National Health Survey accomplished in 2018, the Global School Health Survey in the UAE in 2016, and from the MoHaP Surveillance System on the Obesity of Children Ages 6 to 17 in 2019.

She stressed that a lot of influences interplay when it comes to diet and nutrition: "It is availability, accessibility and education. So we really have to get into a comprehensive approach to make sure that children (are enabled to make the correct and) right action. Like, if I teach children to choose health options but when they go to the supermarkets, (there are none of these), then it is not going to work. So it is really a combination of (approaches).”

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