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Monday, October 18, 2021

Newly launched nutrition guide to govern food policy in Qatar

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Al Saida Bakery
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In an effort to develop a nationwide food policy, Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health (SCH) has rolled out the Gulf’s first nutrition guide this week.

The Qatar Dietary Guide, which hasn’t yet been made publicly available, contains basic nutrition and fitness guidelines that complement the QR50 million ($13.7 million) national nutrition and physical activity plan launched by the SCH in 2011.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

But for the first time, the advice will now be applied on a public policy level to help get Qatar’s residents on healthier footing, officials said.

The Gulf state is among the world’s most obese nations, and its population also struggles with a high prevalence of diabetes.

Speaking at this week’s launch conference, Sheikha Dr. al-Anoud al-Thani, manager of health promotion and non-communicable diseases at SCH, said, as quoted by the Gulf Times:

“The guidelines will be used in marketing of foods and beverages, breastfeeding, nutrition labeling, school meals or snacks guidelines, imports, rations, workplace wellness as well as food industry.”

She added that a national food consumption survey would be conducted to assess the implementation of guidelines, which will also be used to regulate the production of bakeries, so that their products include less salt.

Dr. Tawfiq bin Ahmed Khoja, director general of the GCC Health Minister’s Council, said:

“Bakeries also have been provided health guidelines while preparing several food items resulting in reduction of sodium and salt in bread. Another effort has enabled in reducing the fat content in milk. All this will contribute to improve the health of the people of the country.”

A US fast food outlet displays the calories in its meals.
A US fast food outlet displays the calories in its meals.

Another idea to boost nutrition awareness in Qatar that has been previously discussed was to require all eating establishments in Qatar to display the ingredients and calorie content of their meals.

But a timeline for implementation on that move remains unclear.

Public Health Minister Abdullah bin Khaled Al Qahtani previously said that the ministry was also working with the Supreme Education Council (SEC) to ensure that school canteens only sell healthy food, aimed at trying to stem the growing problem of childhood obesity in the country.

Curbing deaths

One of the guidelines’ main aims is to reduce the risks of non-communicable diseases, which are one of the main causes of death in the world, according to Dr. Mohammad Bin Hamad Al Thani, the SCH’s director general of public health.

Photo of diabetic child for illustrative purposes only.
Photo of diabetic child for illustrative purposes only.

Speaking at this week’s conference, he said more than 34 percent of deaths in Qatar in 2013 could be attributed to non-communicable diseases, such as vascular heart diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, according to QNA.

Qatar ranks among the top five countries in world for the highest diabetes rates.

Nearly a quarter of Qatar’s residents suffer from diabetes, which can increase the risk of health complications such as kidney disease and blindness, as well as shortened lifespans.

Obesity is another major problem in Qatar, which is home to one of the world’s largest proportion of overweight adults, according to report issued in 2014.

Al Thani explained that nutrition and lifestyle play an important role in the prevention and treatment of these chronic diseases.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

For example, the new guidelines advise residents to consume more fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates, while avoiding food and drinks that are high in salt, sugar and saturated fats.

Drinking a lot of water, getting vitamin D from the sun, and making sure that food is prepared in a safe and hygienic manner are also among the guidelines, according to Al Raya.

The new nutrition guide was composed with the help of several prominent Qatar institutions, including Qatar University, Qatar Foundation, Qatar Diabetes Association, Hamad Medical Corp., Sidra Medical and Research Center, Weil Cornell Medical College and the Qatar National Food Security Program.

More objectives and health tips can be found on the guideline’s Instagram account. Thoughts?

13 COMMENTS

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Scarletti
Scarletti
6 years ago

great – so no more fast food outlets !

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
6 years ago
Reply to  Scarletti

If they close Shater Abbas I will petition the government, start blockades, open a “Save the Shater” facebook page and MUCH more. No one will remove the hammour kebab or their kofta from my diet without a fight!!!

Misha
Misha
6 years ago

Well how about they start by banning fast food advertisements on the street billboards that people can not avoid. Last year i remember seeing them even during Ramadan! Even if you are trying to be healthy, if you are sitting in traffic hungry waiting to get home and a picture of a juicy hamburger is right in front of your face you just might impulsively stop by at your nearest fast food.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Misha

Ummm so the marketing is working. That’s the point Misha

Misha
Misha
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Yes, ofcourse it is working. That is their point but not the point of an effective health campaign. My point is that they can not expect people to make lifestyle changes and bombard them with effective marketing. Similar to tobacco companies having had to restrict their advertising and target audience. Fastfood is an addiction as well.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Misha

Unfortunately I’m a smoker who has quit a million times. FF is nothing like a smoking addiction.

Misha
Misha
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

There are plenty of articles and research that say otherwise. Sugar is claimed to be 8 times more addictive than cocaine. Junk food affects the same part of the brain as drugs and alcohol do. Getting rid of cravings of for sugar and other additives can take up to 6 weeks during which the person goes through withdrawal symptoms. It’s quite an interesting subject, there are some documentaries out there about this as well.

Expat
Expat
6 years ago

They are picking on local bakeries while leaving the sharks like McDonald’s, BK, KFC etc. roam free and poison people with their fatty food?

A little bit of extra salt is surely not the best thing for your body, but having a 2,500 Kcal meal with 3000 mg of sodium and some 100 grams of trans fat is what will kill you in the long run!

Jordan
Jordan
6 years ago
Reply to  Expat

Just a quick tip – carbs make you fat – not fat.
http://blog.massivehealth.com/infographics/Carbs_are_killing_you/

foram
foram
6 years ago
Reply to  Jordan

Wrong! Eating more calories than you need makes you fat. But it’s certainly good to eat complex carbs.

I think there’s an exceptional selection of fruits and veggies available here, plus some interesting meats (try to get buffalo in Europe!). I don’t think I’ve ever eaten healthier food than here.

Jordan
Jordan
6 years ago
Reply to  foram

So what you are saying you can survive on Pop Tart if you want right? Just watch the calories?

Not Drinking The Cool-Aid
Not Drinking The Cool-Aid
6 years ago

my company had a health food day. they served french toast with icying. case closed

Ashwin Baker-Trainer
Ashwin Baker-Trainer
6 years ago

Qatar the Land of Opportunity and now its the land of Self Inflicted Deceases (aka NCD’s)

No other word in the health sector has been so abused and twisted as much as the term Nutriton. Cooperate greed and a never ending supply of corrupt politicians and biased media has molested the entire developed world’s mind set on what “Healthy Nutrition” is.

Qatar’s rapid transition from a traditional life style to a western one has seen it become one of the sickest over weight nations on earth. Qatari’s have gone from having a healthy low processed food diet to one which is crammed with every disgusting western delight you can imagine.

Gone are the days of fresh meat, fish, vegetable, rice and spices. You can no longer go 5 minutes in this city without seeing a fast food restaurant, doughnut shop, supermarkets packed with processed garbage brought in from America. Todays menu consists of Sugar laced cereal for breakfast with some Sunny Delight, Krispy Kreme doughnut with a coffee for lunch, and a Nandos for dinner. All this is processed void of actual nutrients which encourage NCD’s

The age of convenience food has set upon the Qatari people and it will not let go unless the government takes drastic actions. Sadly these actions here seem far to Limp Wrested, Out of Date and Corrupt. Once again the people are being miss sold what is bad for them. For Example;

Reduce your Saturated Fat have toxic Vegetable oil instead

Reduce your Sugar go for the carcinogenic diet option instead

The futile attempts of the government are clearly shown in a quote from the Doha News Article

“Bakeries also have been provided health guidelines while preparing several food items resulting in reduction of sodium and salt in bread. Another effort has enabled in reducing the fat content in milk. All this will contribute to improve the health of the people of the country.”

Ok….. lets hammer bakeries and milk but lets not mention CocaCola, McDonalds, KFC, Kraft Nestle.

As a Dietician I hear these quotes and it makes me want to scream. I could digress and go into why these suggestions are flawed but we would be here all day so lets just cover one area.

Education

Qatar hasn’t had time to feel the full consequences of its rapid change in life style and diet. The population needs to stop buying all the horrendous western processed food. So how do we go about that?

Well there is two options, Tax and Price out poor food choices or Educate the population to know what is right and wrong.

Pricing food out firstly wouldn’t really work, this is the wealthiest nation per capita in the world and rising pricing just annoy the population

Education is the way forward. Across the globe countries have made it mandatory for cigarette companies to write warming signs on their cigarette packets. This approach should be taken on dangerous food in Qatar.

What the Government should do is gather data on the top 100-200 foods that Qatari’s eat and then evaluate each item.

Chances are food labelled below would be rife on the list

-Fast food

-Soft drinks both diet and regular

-High Sugar food

-High Processed

All the above foods are laced with carcinogens, pathogens, contain little to no vitamins and minerals.

Once the Qatari’s learn the dangers of the Western Diet things will change.

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