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Teachers’, Parents’, and Children’s Perceptions of Childhood Obesity in Ras Al Khaimah

Overweight and obesity has become as much of an epidemic worldwide, as it is in North America, affecting approximately 1 in 10 children. “In 2007, an estimated 22 million children under the age of 5 years were overweight throughout the world.” (WHO, 2009). There has been a substantial increase in child obesity in developing countries due to the adoption of the unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors of the Western world. Recently, high rates of childhood overweight have been reported in many transitional societies including countries in the Middle East because of their unique prevailing cultural and social factors. For example, adult overweight and obesity rates in many countries of the Eastern Mediterranean now exceeds 65% (A. Alwan, personal communication, WHO, 2008). “The prevalence of overweight in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) is one of the highest in the world: over 30% of all children in the U.A.E. are overweight or obese” (Malik &Bakir, 2007, p. 17) with studies showing a consistent increase in both conditions occurring amongst male and female 2 to 18 year olds (Khader et al., 2009).

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