ABU DHABI, The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MoE) and Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre (ADPHC), surveyed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, distance learning, and social distancing on physical activity, food habits, and quality of sleep among school students in the country.

About 27,754 parents took part in the survey, which also focused on the repercussions of the pandemic on the students of determination and the use of electronic devices.

The study demonstrated a reduction in physical activity among the students by 46 percent, especially among those who were active before the pandemic. Meanwhile, nearly 51.9 percent of parents revealed that they decreased orders for food delivery, while 19.7 percent of those surveyed disclosed an increase in their food delivery orders, while there was no change in 28.4 percent of the participants.

The study showed a variation in the number of sleeping hours among students, while the usage of electronic devices, whether for educational or entertainment purposes, has increased as expected. Obesity has also increased due to the lack of physical activity coupled with the increase in the use of electronic devices. Among the important outcomes of the study was the need of the students of determination for physiotherapy sessions to get rid of the negative impacts of the pandemic.

Dr. Hussein Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Under-Secretary for Centres and Health Clinics, pointed to the implications of the study for the state’s health future and its importance in assessing the impact of the lockdown phase and distance education on the habits and behaviour of school students.

He pointed out that the study was based on statistical facts and smart analysis tools, by collecting data and information about the health status in the country, noting that the aim is to update the health database of school students to support the state’s healthcare planning strategies and improve the quality of healthcare services after the pandemic.

“Through the outcomes, several health indicators of the national agenda will be updated, especially obesity, physical activity, and healthy food among children. In the meantime, a set of programmes and initiatives will be prepared to come up with proper solutions to the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic on the health of school students.

Dr. Naglaa Sajwani, Head of the School Health Department, said, “The study addressed five areas including, the impact of the pandemic on the physical activity and food behaviour of students; the impact of distance learning and home quarantine on students’ sleep patterns; the time spent by students in front of screens for educational and recreational purposes, and the impact of the pandemic on students of determination.”

She pointed out that the most important recommendations were the importance of adopting healthy habits while staying home, such as healthy nutrition and workouts that can be practised inside or just around the home, the importance of educating students on the proper way to use electronic devices to prevent their negative effects, including obesity, back pain, and vision problems, the importance of getting enough sleep, and the need to hold physiotherapy sessions for students of determination to reduce the negative impact of the pandemic.


Source: Emirates News Agency