University of Calgary

UCQ awarded more than $900,000 to study health and lifestyle in Qatar

UToday HomeMay 28, 2013

By John Gulka

From left: Dr. Kim Critchley, Dr. Tam Truong Donnelly, Dr. Kathleen Benjamin, and Dr. Kevin Teather.From left: Dr. Kim Critchley, Dr. Tam Truong Donnelly, Dr. Kathleen Benjamin, and Dr. Kevin Teather. Photo by John GulkaThe eating and activity habits of Arabic speaking adults in Qatar will be the subject of a three-year research project by the University of Calgary – Qatar (UCQ).

The study, Fostering Active Living and Healthy Eating: Understanding the Physical Activity and Dietary Behaviors of Arabic Speaking Adults Living in the State of Qatar, is made possible thanks to funding provided by the Qatar Foundation’s National Priorities Research Program 6th Cycle. UCQ was awarded $929,292 (US) for this three-year project.

“This research will build a solid foundation of knowledge which can be used to inform the development of tailored and culturally sensitive, multiple intervention programs,” explains Tam Truong Donnelly, associate dean (research) and project lead principal investigator.

“Increasing active living and healthy diets will have a positive impact on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and cancer problems which will ultimately improve the health and well being of Arabic people living in the State of Qatar.”

This project is part of Donnelly’s research program aimed at promoting healthy lifestyle/healthy living in Qatar. It continues her 2010 research project, funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) Undergraduate Research Experience Program, exploring healthy lifestyle — physical activity, diet, and smoking — among Qatari women.

“Words cannot adequately express our gratitude to QNRF, to Qatar Foundation, to the State of Qatar,” says Donnelly. “We would not be able to conduct research and continue making a contribution to Qatar health care without the generous and persistent support from QNRF and Qatar Foundation. All my research team members and I are firmly committed to continue to do an excellent job with our research projects and make a contribution to Qatar society to the best of our capability.”

“The impact of this research will help us a lot in the public health department in setting policies and legislation regarding nutrition and physical activity in Qatar,” says Sheikha Al-Anoud bint Mohammad Al-Thani, co-principal investigator, and manager of health promotion and non-communicable diseases, Qatar Supreme Council of Health.

“As all of you know, nutrition and physical activity is one of the National Health Strategy 2011-2016 goals. This research will benefit the action plan, hence my involvement as I am the chairperson of the National Committee for Nutrition and Physical Activity. The output of the research will provide us with knowledge, attitudes and recommendations related to nutrition and physical activity,” says Al-Thani.

“We are honored to be recognized as a university that prides itself on research endeavors,” says Kim Critchley, UCQ dean and chief executive officer.

“The University of Calgary is one of the top research universities in Canada. Its research plan is about inspiring and supporting discovery, creativity and innovation,” says Critchley.

“UCQ is also proud to be contributing to the advancement of health care and education in Qatar. The state is investing wisely in developing a knowledge-based economy. We hope, through our research, to make the lives of all Qatar people more comfortable, healthy and long-lasting.”

Along with Donnelly, Al-Thani, and Critchley, the research team includes: Kathleen Benjamin (principal investigator), post-doctoral fellow at the University of Calgary – Qatar; Al-Hareth Al Khater (co-principal investigator), chairman of Medical Research Centre, Hamad Medical Corporation; Mohamed Ahmedna (co-principal investigator), professor and associate dean (research), College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University; Tak Fung (co-principal investigator), senior math/ statistics consultant in Information Technologies at the University of Calgary; Kevin Teather (collaborator), associate professor at the University of Calgary – Qatar; and Ailsa Welch (collaborator), researcher in nutritional epidemiology at the University of East Anglia Norwich.

“I am very pleased and honoured by QNRF’s decision to fund this research,” says Kathleen Benjamin. “Several years ago, I decided to focus my research on the promotion of physical activity, because as a nurse, I witnessed many needless declines in my patients’ health and well-being due to sedentary lifestyles.

“Factors that influence people’s decisions to exercise, or not to exercise, are multiple, complex and interconnected — this research will help to explicate these factors,” Benjamin says.


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