Journalism students at Northwestern University, Qatar, have created a website to combat the alarming rate of obesity plaguing the country, as well as the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The website, Sweet Epidemic (http://qatarsweetepidemic.org), aims to raise awareness of the cause of obesity, using a mix of media tools such as video documentaries, investigative articles, audio podcasts, and visual stories.

About 75% of Qatar’s population is overweight and 40% are obese or morbidly obese, according to the recent figures from National Health Strategy 2011-2016. This compares to the U.S. obesity figure of 35.7 %, while the health -conscious Japanese weigh in at a low 3% obesity rate.

Christina Paschyn, the course instructor for the class Advanced Online Storytelling and the brainchild behind the idea of using obesity as a platform for her class instruction, told the Gulf News that she chose the topic of diabetes and obesity in Qatar for the website project so that her students may help raise awareness about the country’s health crisis and possibly save lives

Proud of his students’ accomplishments, Dean Everette E. Dennis of the Northwestern University Qatar campus points out that quality journalism and communication is at the nucleus of informative dialogue in tackling important issues such as public health.

This project seems to be a sweet victory for the journalism students in Qatar as they aid the country and the rest of the Gulf Coast in tipping the scales to a smaller waistline and a healthier lifestyle.

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