Concerned about public health

The response to last month’s editor’s letter ‘Dealing with public health’, shows that the region’s healthcare professionals are indeed concerned about rising levels of obesity, diabetes and dental problems.

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By  David Ingham Published  January 8, 2006

|~||~||~|The response to last month’s editor’s letter ‘Dealing with public health’, shows that the region’s healthcare professionals are indeed concerned about rising levels of obesity, diabetes and dental problems.

A reader in Saudi Arabia said, “Thank you for addressing the issue of obesity, fast food and sedentary lifestyle, which is becoming a major problem here in Saudi Arabia.

“I do feel that fast the food industry and poor health education have vastly contributed to this problem. In many of the major cities, a program exists for health awareness, but the message is not getting through to the small communities.”

As for dealing with the problem, he advocated better education in public schools, shopping tours aimed at families and house maids, and banning the sale of fast food and sweets at schools.

Another reader, based in Yanbu, stressed the need to keep public health messages simple, use all mediums of communication to get the message across, and make it easy for people to exercise. “For example, put parking areas 15 minutes away from the workplace. This way, one would be forced to walk and burn out the daily calories of a well balanced diet.”

A female healthcare professional in Dubai felt that the food industry has a lot to answer for. “I strongly feel that food manufacturers, even growers, should be made aware and be made to take responsibility for the health of their consumers.”

Major soft drinks companies, she continued, “are fully aware that their products are detrimental to the health, yet they target children and teenagers who are most vulnerable and probably the least aware about what is healthy or not... The root cause of the problem is money and greed.” She went on to say that only by eating organic food can people avoid consuming harmful pesticides and antibiotics.

Healthcare professionals are clearly concerned about levels of public health and the answer, as we all know, lies in more exercise, better diet and less stressful lifestyles. The onus is now on healthcare authorities to came up with plans of action that will get these messages through to the public.||**||

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