MOH News
Khojah lauds AL-Falih's Directives to Ban Soft Drinks and Junk Food in Hospitals
04 April 2016
The Director-General of the Executive Board of the GCC Health Ministers Council, Dr. Tawfiq bin Ahmad Khojah has praised a decision taken by the Saudi Minister of Health (MOH), Eng. Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih to ban the sale of soft drinks, candies and junk food at all hospitals. 
 
Khojah lauded the MOH's efforts as "commendable" for promoting a culture of preventing diseases and their causes as well as reducing risks in the society. He also hailed efforts exerted by the MOH to activate risk reduction factors and interventions prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) on control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, obesity, blood pressure, high blood lipids and cardiovascular diseases.
 
He pointed out that the issue was recently discussed during the latest meeting of the GCC Nutrition Committee held in Qatar. The meeting took up the obesity rates in adults, adolescents and children in the Gulf States. It covered the GCC's nutrition plan to control overweight in the area. The plan suggested a number of goals including the development of a monitoring framework on children, adolescents, adults and the elderly nutrition according to the needs of each state.
 
It also put emphasis on adopting standardized measurements such as: height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference to activate monitoring and data collection and to assess the GCC-tailored changes which are needed to meet the regional requirements. In addition, it suggested the development of a food consumption survey program for the GCC states in order to provide valuable data for nutrition intervention programs, and to unify efforts and goals set for improving the nutritional health in the Gulf area.
 
Moreover, it included nutrition education programs on obesity and overweight problems in children and adolescents via TV shows and training health educators and intellectuals on delivering health nutrition messages and managing anti-obesity campaigns. The suggested campaigns shall aim at reducing consumption of bad fats and sugar, improving nutritional choices and monitoring the BMI: (Beware of Obesity) and (Keep Obesity Away).
 
Khojah cited scientific studies warning that soft drinks are responsible for doubling the number of obesity cases among different age groups, particularly children and adolescents, over the last decade. Khojah added that children consumption of soft drinks in the United States jumped from 375 ml to 570 ml during this period.
 
According to Khojah, another study made by Boston Children's Hospital showed that children drinking soft drinks daily consume 835 calories more than those avoiding soft drinks. That means that children who drink soft drinks loaded with sugar eat much more food than those who avoid soft drinks. The sugared drinks cause a rise in insulin which reduces blood sugar level and cause the feeling of hunger and a tendency to eat more amount of food.
 
Obesity is also caused by having junk food while sitting for long times watching TV and following unhealthy lifestyles such as: lack of physical activity, tension, anxiety and lack of sleep. Such factors lead to prevalence of obesity among children, adolescents and adults. They also make them more susceptible to developing diabetes and other chronic diseases in the future.
 
Another study confirmed that regular consumption of soft drinks is a main cause of obesity in children and other age groups. A study of more than 50,000 nurses conducted during the period from 1996-2004, found that those who drank soft drinks had more than an 80 percent increased risk of developing diabetes compared to others who are adhering to fiber and vitamin-rich foods.
 
Khojah concluded his statements by calling on all parties in concern, decision makers and developers of health, education and economic policies to play their assigned roles in protecting the community against such growing problem and its causes, and to reduce consumption of harmful and unhealthy foods.
 
 
 



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