The 2015 Public Health Think Tank focused on the issue of obesity in adolescents in the UAE. 34 delegates from 13 universities across the Emirates were selected from a pool of more than 120 applicants to devise innovative strategies to tackle the obesity crisis in the UAE. Over two days, the students participated in workshops and lectures to prepare themselves for formulating an action plan to implement their initiatives and designed their own interventions in groups. The students presented their plans to a panel of public health professionals led by Dr Cheryl Healton, Dean of the NYU College of Global Public Health and comprised of representatives from academia, the UAE government, and active public health practitioners.
The conference featured several distinguished experts in the field of obesity and public health. They included guest speakers Professor Jennifer Pomeranz, Clinical Assistant Professor at the College of Public Health at NYU, Dr Malin Garemo, Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Public Health at Zayed University UAE, Dr Abdishakur Abdulle, Associate Director of the Public Health Research Centre at NYUAD, and Dr Lily O’Hara, Assistant Professor at Emirates College of Advanced Education. Andrea Leinberger-Jabari delivered a workshop on how to devise a public health action plan, Professor Andrew Sterner helped the delegates create engaging proposals for their initiatives, and Amani Magid spoke about library research strategies that would help the delegates create evidence-based interventions.
The winning team targeted their initiative to the residents of Al Sila, a traditional town of approximately 10,000 people in UAE’s Western Region. The team built upon existing frameworks using a multifaceted approach. For instance, one of their initiatives was to increase the number of restaurants sporting the ‘Weqaya’ label, a screening program launched by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi. The team’s proposal also targeted supermarkets, cafés, and homes of Emiratis to implement grass root level solutions. As the winning team, the team became eligible for a grant to implement their proposal in the UAE, along with access to mentors from university faculty and HAAD. Read more about PHTT 2015 here.