The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified obesity as one of the top five mortality risks globally and is targeted for priority action as it is responsible for 5% of deaths associated with non-communicable diseases.
In high-income countries more than 50% of adults are overweight and over 20% are obese. The UAE has undergone rapid urbanisation and economic growth in the last 50 years, and it is well recognised that transitioning nations experience increased incidence of obesity associated with urban sprawl, sedentary lifestyles, change in diet and other risk factors.
Due to the rising obesity rates in the UAE, Al Jalila Foundation supported a research study lead by Professor Yousef AlBastaki at Dubai Health Authority to determine the UAE population reference standard charts for weight, height, body mass index, skinfold thickness, and eating habits at ages 0–18 years.
For reliable estimates of obesity in children, valid measures should be used as using body weight alone does not allow for differences in height and stature.
The aim of this study was to determine a range of anthropometric measurements including skinfold thickness measurements in four different areas of the body, to construct population growth charts for body mass index (BMI), skinfolds in UAE national children.
This study enabled the comparison of UAE growth charts with the growth charts from other countries and provided a better picture of the prevalence of obesity healthcare providers can deliver to the policy makers on the trends of BMI and obesity among children in the UAE.