Childhood and adolescent obesity is a growing epidemic in Kuwait. Studies have shown that one of every two teens have been diagnosed as overweight or obese. With the fast-food culture taking over, bigger is always more appealing the faster one can eat it, the better. With a fairly sedentary lifestyle that goes hand-in-hand with said culture, the numbers are getting scarier by the day. This is why the Health Empowerment Youth Association (HEYA!) and the Strategy and Analysis for Health (SAHA) Institute are launching the first evidence-based public health campaign in Kuwait, to help tackle the ever-so-increasing pandemic that is childhood obesity.
With most of the region ranking amongst the top most obese nations worldwide, Kuwait’s very own SAHA Institute took the initiative to create an awareness campaign to put an end to this. While the initial focus is to raise awareness through this campaign, their ultimate goal is to get the youth, communities, and policy makers to take a stand and end this state of obesity. Based on the French EPODE methodology, which is the most successful obesity prevention program, HEYA!’s campaign is the first to be tailored and executed specifically to the region.
Being the single most important contributor to diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and psychological disorders, childhood obesity in Kuwait is on the rise. This phenomenon has been increasing since the Gulf War due to the poor diet choices and habits as well as a decrease in active lifestyles. As a result, three in every four women suffer from obesity and one in every two children are diagnosed as overweight or obese.
HEYA! also know that healthy living starts at home and gives some quick tips to help steer you and your family in the right direction in healthy eating: Add greens – make sure you eat fresh vegetables with all meals, which are full of the right vitamins and minerals your body needs and help you feel full and satisfied; Pick the right snack – go for some sliced fruit or nuts, instead of something which you will regret as soon as you have finished eating it; Thirsty? Drink water – Don’t drink your calories, as most juices and other sodas do not help your body at all. Feed your muscles – Eat the right proteins (avoid processed meats if possible) for strength and growth at all ages. And finally; try making your own meals so you can be aware of every ingredient going into you and your family’s bodies.
Nadeem Alduaij, Founder and President of SAHA Institute and Instructor at Harvard Medical School, said, “Our campaign brings the best evidence to our communities to tackle one of the most critical health problems our societies are facing,” he also added, “It promotes collective and concerted action by a coalition of public and private stakeholders.” HEYA! also welcomes volunteers of all ages! So join in the efforts to make Kuwait a healthier place to be!
HEYA! is a collaborative effort between the US State Department’s MEPI program, SAHA Institute, Ministry of State for Youth Affairs (www.youth.gov.kw ) and social marketing leaders TBWA (www.tbwabcomad.com ), Snipp! (http://home.snipp.co m), and Socialobby. For more information on HEYA! visit: www.heyakuwait.org or follow them on Twitter and Instagram @heyakuwait.
The SAHA (Strategy and Analysis for Health) Institute is an innovative, independent, and non-partisan health policy think-and-do tank serving the Arab World. It is a platform for scientists, marketeers, and policy-makers to design and implement meaningful solutions to public health threats. SAHA Institute seeks to promote equitable, efficient, and sustainable health systems through research, education, advocacy, evidence-informed policies and strategic partnerships in the field of global health policy. It was founded in Kuwait in 2012. For more information visit www.sahainstitute.org or follow them on Twitter @sahainstitute.