The Ministry of Health and Prevention, represented by the Department of Health Education and Promotion, concluded the first edition of ‘Junior Chef Program’ program in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development and the Sharjah Girl Guides. The program, which started on August 1, 2017 till August 28, 2017, is part of the Ministry’s efforts to reduce obesity in children to 12 per cent by 2021 in line with the objectives of the UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda. ‘Junior Chef Program’ aims to raise children’s awareness on the importance of eating healthy food, provide them with healthy shopping skills and choosing healthy food alternatives.
Targeting children aged 10 to 15 years, educational workshops on healthy food and cooking have been carried out under the supervision of an experienced nutritionist. In addition, awareness field trip was organized to the Lulu Hypermarket to provide participants with information about smart and healthy shopping and proper label reading to help them choose healthy products. Under the program, the participants have been tested and selected to qualify for the final ‘Cooking Contest.’
Dr. Fathila Mohamed Sherif - Director of Health Education & Promotion Department, Ministry of Health and Prevention, said that ‘Junior Chef Program’ is one of the Ministry’s initiatives promoting behavioral changes among children to prevent diseases and encourage adoption of healthy lifestyles. Empowering individuals, especially children, to adopt healthy lifestyles is part of the Ministry’s objective to build a healthy UAE community.
In line with the objectives of UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda, she added that the Ministry seeks to reduce obesity in children to 12 per cent by 2021 by launching relevant activities and events.
From her side, Shaimaa Khalifa, Nutritionist and Supervisor for ‘Junior Chef Program’, noted that, under the ongoing program, the children are able to bond with their peers while cooking their favorite meals and dishes. In addition, they will have a chance to win the ‘Junior Chef Program’ award. Part of the competition involves 25 young participants preparing their favorite meals in a healthy way. The meals, which should include all food groups, will be assessed based on the given criteria, including the cooking methods employed and choice of healthy alternatives designed to influence them to adopt a healthy living.
Beyond preparing healthy dishes within the given time frame, the contestants should be able to demonstrate their creativity. The winners will be honored during the closing ceremony where gifts courtesy of Malabar gold & diamond will be handed out.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention has launched a number of programs and initiatives promoting healthy lifestyles and fighting obesity in UAE society and kids particularly. These include engaging in promoting the importance of eating healthy food, providing necessary skills, building a healthy environment, and involving communities and civil society organizations in relevant programs.