Olympic le­gend’s mes­sage to UAE par­ents

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Ma­hak Man­nan @Ma­hakLFC ma­hak@7days.ae

Nine-time Olympic gold medal­ist Carl Lewis has urged par­ents in the UAE to cook their chil­dren fresh food and play sports with them in the bat­tle to beat the bulge.

The Amer­i­can track and field le­gend was speak­ing at Da­man’s Health­ier Com­mu­ni­ties Con­fer­ence in Abu Dhabi yes­ter­day, which is part of UAE Health Week.

Last week, Dubai Mu­nic­i­pal­ity warned a third of the emi­rate’s school pop­u­la­tion is over­weight or obese, while Dubai’s Rashid Hos­pi­tal said half of stroke pa­tients are now under 45.

Dur­ing the con­fer­ence, Lewis said par­ents in the UAE should get more in­volved in their child’s daily ac­tiv­i­ties to bring about a healthy life­style.

“If UAE par­ents want to start build­ing a healthy life­style among chil­dren, they need to start them off a young age,” said Lewis, 55, who is re­garded as one of the great­est ever track and field stars.

“All these fast food restau­rants are not go­ing away, they are al­ways go­ing to be there. Par­ents need to find the time to eat at home, that is one of the great­est ways you can teach your child about a good diet and nu­tri­tion.

“Kids to­day are very picky with what they eat, but if you in­volve them in the process, they will want to eat at home.

“My mother would ask me to grab the in­gre­di­ents, stir the sauce and keep me busy while mak­ing din­ner – so I wanted to eat what I was mak­ing, al­ways. It is not just about help­ing cook the meal, but to en­gage them in it. And this also teaches them how to have health­ier di­ets.”

He also urged par­ents not just to buy their chil­dren toys, but to play and ex­er­cise with them. Lewis added: “I re­mem­ber when I first when to the track, my par­ents told me to think I was at the beach and make sand­cas­tles in the long jump pit, so my ath­letic ca­reer started out play­ing in the sand. “Have that in­ter­ac­tion with your child. If you buy them a bike for Christ­mas, get your­self one as well and go bik­ing with them. Shoot a few hoops with your kids if they like bas­ket­ball in­stead of just hir­ing a coach. “What­ever you want them to do, do it with them and their favourite childhood mem­ory will be when you went out and had those ac­tiv­i­ties with them. It worked for me and I’m sure it will for you. “Kids need to be in­tro­duced to sports, diet and nu­tri­tion at a very young age, that is what is go­ing to bring about the dif­fer­ence in tack­ling obe­sity across the globe.” The ease of or­der­ing junk food and ready to eat meals is bring­ing about an un­healthy cul­ture within the UAE, a se­nior nu­tri­tion­ist said. Dr Anita Das Gupta, Chief Clin­i­cal Di­eti­tian at Bur­jeel Hos­pi­tal Abu Dhabi, said: “Par­ents find eat­ing out very at­trac­tive in the UAE. “Most of our young pa­tients have a sweet tooth, they eat a lot of junk food, have a lot of fizzy drinks, be­cause they are al­lowed to, and we ad­vise them to stick to home-cooked meals.”


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