Majority of children in Qatar have unhealthy eating patterns and many skip breakfast, according to Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
About 70 percent children do not eat healthy food and 90 percent eat unhealthy snacks between meals, says an awareness booklet on ‘Childhood obesity’ issued by HMC.
Also, 33 percent of Qatari schoolchildren skip breakfast and 80 percent do not get the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
As a result, 28 percent of children are obese and 16 percent have above average body weight, the booklet says, highlighting that overweight or obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Childhood obesity is caused by genetic and environmental factors. Obesity trends run in family yet genetic factors alone don’t cause obesity.
Common behaviours among children, including overeating, consuming drinks with more sugar and unhealthy food, greater availability of high fat and high sugar food at school cafeterias, advertisements of less healthy food, increasing portion size, lack of daily physical activity in schools, increased number of hours spent watching TV and playing video games have been listed as environmental reasons for childhood obesity in the booklet.
It also advises parents to set an example for their children by eating healthy food, limiting visits to fast food restaurants, avoiding junk food. It says parents should buy whole grain bread, pasta, rice and cereals, give children small portions of food and encourage them to eat at least five vegetables.
Together with healthy eating habits, it’s recommended for children to adopt an active lifestyle.
Parents are advised to give children equipment that encourage physical activity such as jumping rope, football, kites, Frisbee or bicycles and to make physical activity part of their family’s daily routine.
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