Studies on nutritional habits and lifestyle in Qatar, from Doha to Milan
Dr. Laura Soldati and Prof. Scarone received the visit of Prof. Tahra Elobeid (PhD), from the Human Nutrition Program, Department of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University, with some of her students visiting Qatar Pavilion at Milano Expo 2015 and the University of Milano. They were accompanied with Mr.Hassan Ali Al-Ansari, the Director of Media and Communications representing the Qatar Pavilion and Mr. Mohamed Alblouchi, the Director of the Qatar Pavilion. It was a good opportunity to show our structure. Dr. Soldati and her team presented their research topics and discussed the program of research that is currently underway in collaboration between our University and the University of Qatar.
In few decades, the Middle East has been witnessing significant changes in food habits, losing traditional healthy diet, rich in vegetable proteins, fibers, minerals and vitamins, in the favor of a more industrial diet, consisting of preprocessed foods, sugars, fats, animal products, saturated- and trans- fatty acids. In this landscape, Nutrition-Related not Communicable Diseases (NR-NCDs) increased exponentially and are estimated to account for 69% of total deaths in Qatar. Moreover, the Qatari population has a unique genetic background because of the migration history and the high rate of consanguineous marriages (54%), resulting in high prevalence of NR-NCDs.
To promote a deeper knowledge of such challenging matter, experts in nutrition have met in Doha, Qatar, last November 2014, to discuss science advances and future perspectives in the nutrition science for the Middle East countries. Since then, collaboration has developed between researchers from the Department of Health Sciences, University of Milan (Dr. Laura Soldati) and the Department of Health Sciences, University of Qatar (Prof. Abdelhamid Kerkadi and Dr. Tahra Eltayeb Elobeid Abdelkhalig) for starting epidemiological studies on nutrition in Qatar.
The nutritional habits and life-style were demonstrated to improve the resolution and frequency of NR-NCDs, but poor information is available about diet in terms of macro and micro components and caloric intake in the Middle East countries. New tools are needed to collect more precise estimates of these population dietary habits and to characterize their diets in terms of macro- and micro-nutrients. Moreover, ad hoc designed applications for smartphones are currently in development to promote the subject compliance to personalized diet and the dialogue between patients and healthcare professionals.
Nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics are sciences that are being developed and that will give key answers in non-communicable diseases in Qatar and in other countries in the Middle East, for which we are seeking the cooperation of other institutions and other researchers interested in participating in this project.