Experts voice concern of parents ‘cashing in’ on weight loss scheme for Dubai’s youngsters
Overweight children in Dubai have been given a hefty incentive to shed the kilos – the promise of gold.
The weight loss initiative, dubbed ‘Your Child in Gold’, was launched by the head of Dubai Municipality, who said something had to be done as children in the city are piling on the pounds because they spend too much time in front of the TV or on computers.
Hussain Nasser Lootah also pointed the finger at fast food restaurants – and blamed schools for not having enough exercise programmes. Lootah said: “Kids are staying in front of the TV and on the computers. There is no exercising in schools. Before there was always at least one class but now a lot of schools have eliminated exercise.
“There are so many elements affecting kids nowadays, it’s not like the old days.”
The initiative will see individual entries get 1g of gold for each kilo lost, but with the focus on families, each participating family will win 2g of gold for every kilo lost by an active member. Families can participate with kids up to the age of 13.
However, one nutritionist is worried parents might push their kids to lose weight just for the gold. Andrew Picken, owner of Bespoke Wellness, said: “It’s a bit sad. You should lose weight for yourself not to fill up your bank. I wouldn’t be interested in gold if I was a kid.”
The new campaign follows on from last year’s summer initiative called ‘Your Weight in Gold’, where residents received 1g of gold for each kilo lost.
And Ahmed bin Sulayem, the executive chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre – which is collaborating with the municipality for the campaign – believes it is a great way to reach out to kids, who he says are targeted by the food industry.
He said: “Kids will realise that sweets are just as bad as cigarettes, they are close to poison.”
A total of Dhs150,000 is being sponsored for this year’s initiative. But, another Dubai-based nutritionist said that rewarding gold to children is not the best way to motivate them to lose weight. Nasha Sarkari said: “Children will not be interested in gold.
“If you want them to participate give them a year’s pass to Wild Wadi or an adventure park.”
The campaign runs from July 15 to September 1. Registrations can be made at thedmgold.com.