For the past couple of years, we have all been hearing about how figures of obesity in the UAE are sky rocketing. Not to mention how well it pairs with chronic illnesses like diabetes. As an individual who is somewhat conscious about health, I promised to make 2013 my fitness year. We’ve all slacked enough and procrastinated enough with eating healthy and working out. But alas, I’m done with the constant regrets.
Looking back into the history of health statistics, we know it only took two decades for this country to witness a deteriorating health demographic. Part of the blame goes to technology for making our lives so easy with gadgets that once required our physical input, and part of the blame goes to our rather luxurious and comfortable lifestyle, poor diet choices and lack of exercise.
If scientific studies and research conducted by various institutions in the UAE reveal that more than 60% per cent of Emiratis are overweight, what is being done to combat this deadly illness? Sure, schools have stopped selling fizzy drinks and some universities have integrated health awareness classes and seminars as part of the student’s first year curriculum, but are they enough?
I don’t claim to have an answer to this rather horrific epidemic; however, I do know that the measures taken are by and large, not enough. Living between Abu Dhabi and Doha, I realized that both countries are going through the same health issues. If we were to benchmark best practices in attempts at health awareness campaigns globally, I would look at Japan, Canada and Qatar for having inaugurated concepts that are deemed as positive and effective moves toward the right direction by marking one calendar day as a National Sports Day. Let’s take a look at Qatar for instance, currently in its second year, the Qatar National Sports Day is an annual event where private and public corporations are mandated by the government to initiate outdoor and indoor sports activities for their employees and families.
Apart from getting people active and encouraging them towards adopting a healthier lifestyle, this move is also great chance for sports clubs and health organizations in the country to promote their services and encourage people to take up interesting activities like volleyball, cricket, kayaking, martial arts, shooting, horse riding, weight lifting, rock climbing and many more.
The beauty of this day is that such activities are not limited to white collar workers on Sports Day, but also open to children, blue collar workers in industrial and off shore areas, and even the elderly and physically disabled people. Ever thought how much a wheel chair race could be fun?
Whilst many people would like to think of this day as an official holiday, it is not! An employee who doesn’t participate or volunteer gets penalized by having one day taken of his leave balance (that includes people on top management i.e. directors, heads of departments and CEO’s). It is evident how an event like this not only gets people active and interested in taking up a sport in the long run but also brings the community together.
The UAE has been blessed with great leadership who strive on improving on every aspect of the economic and social sector, and one can only hope that it will also consider learning from such practices in the region and invest in its people for a brighter future and a healthier nation.
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