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Plea to ban school meals that may lead to diabetes

15,000 people suffer from kidney failure in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Source : Arab news / 17 Mar 2014

Government officials and social welfare organizations in Alkhobar called on the Ministry of Education to activate the recommendations filed six years ago about banning unhealthy meals such as chips and soft drinks in school cafeterias in efforts to curb obesity and limit the risks of children contracting diabetes.

The officials confirmed at a press conference during the International Scientific Conference for Kidney diseases and ways to combat them, held in Alkhobar recently, that the lack of cooperation and clarity about the seriousness of the disease are behind the increased rates of diabetes which might lead to kidney failure later.

Abdulaziz Al-Turki, chairman of the board of the Saudi Diabetes and Endocrine Association in the Eastern Province, suggested that a national project recommending that healthy food ingredients be added to the diabetics’ nutritional list, will be submitted to the Shoura Council for study.

The project will be implemented in cooperation with the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) and the Ministries of Health, Higher Education and Information and Culture. The project stipulates that employees of the FDA and health inspectors be given extensive training on how to uncover hidden calories in foods, in addition to applying health specifications for food sold in school and university cafeterias.

Al-Turki said the association works in conjunction with a survey of under 15-year-old students in the Eastern Province (diabetes-obesity). The project was launched by Prince Saud bin Naif, governor of the Eastern Province, in 47 schools in Jubail. It was discovered that 15 students had Type-1 diabetes during the first semester.

Coordinator for the Saudi Center for Organ Transplant Hassan Al-Khinani said 15,000 people suffer from kidney failure in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and need dialysis annually. He said more than 4,000 patients are in urgent need of kidney transplants. He called for a speedy solution to the problem before patients reach the dialysis and transplant stage.

Omar Abdulla from King Fahad Military Hospital said reports point out that 24 percent of the Kingdom’s population have diabetes. Half of them are at high risk of developing kidney failure, which will cost the Kingdom billions of riyals in treatment. He said developed countries, such as the United States lose around $150 billion a year to treat diabetes-related complications.

The deputy chairman of the Saudi Charity to Stimulate Organ Donation, Altruism (Eithar), Hanan Al-Ghamdi, called for the adoption of strategies that will limit the spread of diabetes-related complications that may lead to kidney failure and fight the negative phenomenon of bad eating habits and the traditional lifestyle of Saudi citizens.

Kholoud Maghrbil, assistant general director of public health, and Ibtisam Baeisa, director for the Diabetes Center in the Eastern Province, defended the Ministry of Health, saying there are 20 diabetes centers in the Kingdom and the ministry is adopting a strategy to support diabetes patients.


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