UAE health and education officials are launching a bid next month to tackle childhood obesity, as doctors estimate 50 percent of school-age children are overweight.
An education and healthy eating initiative will start in the middle of December in Dubai and Sharjah schools, a health official told Gulf News.
Pupils will be encouraged to eat less junk food and swap computer games and watching television for sports and exercise.
School canteens will also be supervised to make sure they serve healthy options, Salah Ahmad Mohammad, director of the national programme for control of diabetes told the paper.
An unnamed ministry doctor told the paper that about half of all school-age children are overweight. Weight problems can lead to heart disease and diabetes later in life, as well as having a negative impact on a person's self esteem, Mohammad. Dr Ayoub Kalaff, a psychologist, told the paper.
"Overweight people retreat into themselves when they receive negative comments [about their physique], which will see them continuing to eat junk food for comfort and staying indoors to avoid social interaction," he said.