When the UN and its members adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, the new global agenda was applauded as a plan of action that included people, planet and prosperity. A little over a year later, we can see a move by governments, organizations and companies around the world making big strides in implementing change through the lens of sustainable development and at a far more strategic level. More and more, businesses are aligning their work and investigating changes in their business operations and behaviors to correspond with the SDGs and support their delivery.
At Tanmiah Food, a Saudi-based company operating in the food sector, we know that the key to a thriving business is not simply the financial bottom line, and inspired by the pioneering work of other global corporations, we are reaching out beyond profit interests to achieve tangible change in communities around the world.
On a national level, childhood obesity is a growing concern in Saudi Arabia with research showing that 38% of pre- and school-aged children are overweight and 15.3% obese. In efforts to curb these staggering realities, we partnered with Cleveland Clinic Children’s to design the Fit Kids program and respond to the third SDG – Wellbeing and Good Health. Fit Kids aims to raise awareness about childhood obesity with a focus on healthy weight and balanced nutrition, and is governed by 5 core values: impact, sustainability, scalability, cost-effectiveness and game-changing.
Modeled on successful childhood obesity prevention strategies previously developed and implemented by Cleveland Clinic Children’s Fit Kids employs a multi-level, multi-sector approach that will provide education and behavior change touch points across the lifespan of citizens.
We believe that to truly impact childhood obesity, children and their families, the medical community, the public and private sectors all have a role to play. By adapting school-based interventions from the Cleveland Clinic Children’s 5 to Go!TM programme, Fit Kids offers schools a ‘menu’ of options to improve the health and wellness of their students, including curricula and the availability of healthier choices in the school canteen.
The healthcare community is and should be a reliable source of information to both prevent childhood obesity before it becomes a concern, and to address the issue where it already exists. In our engagement with pediatricians and other clinicians, Fit Kids will help to equip healthcare professionals with current data on childhood obesity as well as the appropriate strategies for discussing the issue with patients and parents, and assisting children to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
Finally, the role of the public and civil society sectors cannot be overlooked and we have been invested in working with both grassroots organizations and the government to help make the healthiest choice the easiest choice for families.
We’ve identified a goal to impact two million children and their communities in Saudi Arabia by 2020 and started the countdown already towards more fit and healthy lives for children everywhere.