RIYADH — ‘Rashaka’, a new health awareness program, has been launched in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) recently, with the aim to promote an active lifestyle and reduce obesity amongst students across the Kingdom. It is a result of a partnership between the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Aquafina and Quaker Oats – and targets students, parents and teachers across the country. The Ministry of Health aims to reduce obesity rates by 5% by the year 2020 in alignment with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which aims to build a society of individuals who enjoy a good quality of life by promoting physical, psychological and social well-being.
Dr. Shaker A. Alomary, MD. SBFM. ABFM, Director of the obesity control program, Ministry of Health, said: “The importance of an active and healthy lifestyle is increasingly gaining awareness among the people of Saudi Arabia. Rashaka is a key step towards the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and we invite students, teachers and parents to become part of the program as we strive towards becoming a healthier, fitter nation.”
Karim Baraka, Aquafina Marketing Director MENA, said: “Aquafina has always been dedicated to the well-being of its consumers and giving back to the community. We are proud to partner with the Ministry of Health and Education on the Rashaka program, and our aim is to educate students, teachers and parents across Saudi Arabia on the importance of staying hydrated throughout the day, supplemented by an active lifestyle.”
Thamer Tumeirik, Quaker Marketing Director MENA, added: “We at Quaker Oats believe in providing wholesome goodness in everything we do, and we look forward to help guide a new generation of young Saudis towards enriching their daily lives as part of the Rashaka program. Through our partnership with the Ministry of Health and Education in Saudi Arabia, we are confident that the Rashaka program can help us positively reach out to the Saudi community.”
Studies show that 28.7% of the population in KSA suffer obesity; 23% of school students and 30.7% of students above the age of 15 are overweight; and 9.3% of school students in general suffer obesity.
The Rashaka program is expected to reach 20% of the public and private schools in the Kingdom (6,000 schools in total) in 5 years, and 1,000 schools in one year – involving 500,000 children, 700,000 parents and 30,000 teachers in activities related to three main pillars: nutrition awareness and healthy diets, physical activity, and healthy lifestyles. The program also involves parents and teachers at all school levels to lead by example and support young children to together create a healthier community.
Aquafina and Quaker Oats have focused their efforts to increase awareness among children and teenagers about the key role regular hydration and a daily breakfast play in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To this end, Aquafina will conduct awareness education sessions as well as distribute informative kits on the importance of hydration. Quaker Oats will be providing daily breakfast to school students across the country, to promote a healthy start to the day. Similarly, Aquafina and Quaker will also assist in creating a hotline managed by the Ministry of Health, in organizing competitions at schools, in creating an app to raise awareness around nutrition, as well as visit schools on a regular basis to monitor progress. — SG