Childhood obesity is a complex health problem that calls for public concern. Usually, the problem takes place when a child is above the standard healthy weight for their age and height. The causes of obesity during childhood are similar to those of adults. The main causes are behavior and genetics. The community also plays a role in causing obesity cases since the community has the potential of influencing the healthy choices that a child or parent makes. Behavior is a common cause of obesity among children (Al-Shehhi et al. 2017). For instance, children who consume meals that are high in calorie, a lot of beverages and low nutrient diets are more prone to become victims of obesity. Medication, lack of exercise and enough sleep is also another cause. The community or rather the environment is a major cause of obesity cases among children. Environments that do not support health living habits will tend to influence individuals living in such environments to engage in unhealthy living habits (Puhl & Heuer 2010).
Current trends in childhood obesity
Deducing from a large cross sectional study taken in the United Arab Emirates school children, the prevalence of overweight and obesity is highest in children is highest in children who are 11 years old making up 14.2%. It is also lowest among children aged 7 years old making up 3% of the population. The trend reveals that there is a progressive increase in the prevalence of obesity and overweight with age across the population of schoolchildren in the UAE that is a reflection of global trends. From the study conducted by Abduelkarem at al (2020), the onset of puberty might be a large contributor of obesity cases among children in UAE. Research has shown that there is a relationship between puberty and accumulation of adipose tissue and decreased physical activity especially among children who encounter puberty early (Abduelkarem et al. 2020).
Ways to support the learning and physical difference
There are a number of ways that obesity cases among children can be reduced in the UAE. In rural areas, traditional behavior modification and counselling, educational approaches are critical tools to encourage people to make positive healthy changes in their lifestyles. Social support and companionship is also a good mechanism that families, schools and communities at large can employ to reduce overweight and obesity cases among children. Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a guideline outlining the community strategies that are essential for enhancing healthy eating and active living (Abduelkarem et al. 2020).
Some of the ways to reduce obesity and overweight cases include supporting the availability of affordable healthy food and beverages, enhancing health food and beverage choices, supporting breastfeeding, fostering physical activity and limiting sedentary activity among children. Additionally communities should also establish safe environments that foster physical activity and encourage communities to come up with programs that advocate for change (Puhl & Heuer 2010).
Relevant community resources to support reduction of childhood obesity cases
There are several community resources that can be used to support the reduction of overweight and obesity cases among children. One of the resources is through the use of community funds to promote programs that foster healthy living habits. Education is also a critical tool. Therefore, educational curriculums in UAE should be integrated with educational programs that teach children how to live a healthy life from formative ages (Al-Shehhi et al. 2017). Research shows that enhancing early care and education environment of childcare and early education resources have a direct effect on what children consume and their level of activeness. Furthermore, it helps children to develop good eating habits from when they are young to later times in their lives (Puhl & Heuer 2010).
Significance of equal rights among children with obesity
Even though obesity is largely contributed by life choices, it is important to always give individuals with obesity equal rights to education. It is unethical to stigmatize children with obesity since it affects them in myriad ways. When children who are overweight or have developed obesity are stigmatized or discriminated, it largely affects their self-esteem (Al-Shehhi et al. 2017). Research has shown that stigma and discrimination pose negative consequences for both psychological and physical health of people who are obese. Public stigma and discrimination does not in any way help in fighting the increase of obesity cases. On the contrary, it affects how the victims perceive themselves, it increases stress on them making them fail to function properly and might even enter into depression (Abduelkarem et al. 2020).
Solutions for Arabic speakers and other languages spoken in the UAE
The best way to solve the issue of obesity is providing education particularly in Arabic language that will teach children and their parents or guardians on how to lead healthy lifestyles. Hospitals should also provide education to parents whenever they attend for medical reasons. The ministry of health can also organize community workshops that will teach people on how to lead healthy lifestyles (Al-Shehhi et al. 2017).
Summing up, the main cause of obesity and overweight cases in UAE among children is lifestyle. Therefore, it is important that the government in collaboration with the ministry of health and community leaders should come up with programs that educate people on how to live healthy lifestyles through diet and exercises.
Abduelkarem, A. R., Sharif, S. I., Bankessli, F. G., Kamal, S. A., Kulhasan, N. M., & Hamrouni, A. M. (2020). Obesity and its associated risk factors among school-aged children in Sharjah, UAE. PloS one, 15(6), e0234244.
Al-Shehhi, E., Al-Dhefairi, H., Abuasi, K., Al Ali, N., Al Tunaiji, M., & Darwish, E. (2017). Prevalence and Risk Factors of Obesity in Children Aged 2-12 Years in the Abu Dhabi Islands. World Family Medicine Journal: Incorporating the Middle East Journal of Family Medicine, 99(5548), 1-14..
Puhl, R. M., & Heuer, C. A. (2010). Obesity stigma: important considerations for public health. American journal of public health, 100(6), 1019-1028.