‘Obesity, diabetes common among young Emirati men’ - GulfToday

‘Obesity, diabetes common among young Emirati men’


The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

A Zayed Military Academy (Abu Dhabi)-funded landmark study, said to be the “largest” thus far accomplished in the UAE with 33,327 young adult Emirati men as “study subjects,” has shown a worrying picture of obesity and diabetes.

Lead author and Zayed Military Hospital (Abu Dhabi)-Respiratory Division head Prof Ashraf Hasan Humaidan Alzaabi has called on for more measures not only to reverse the situation but also in order that the debilitating effects of these two serious diseases and related conditions throughout adulthood and old age would be avoided.

The link to the 21-month study titled “Prevalence of Diabetes and Cardio-Metabolic Risk Factors in Young Men in the United Arab Emirates: A Cross-Sectional National Survey” was sent to the media on Wednesday.

The study, also funded by the UK-based drug firm Astra Zeneca, was decided upon because the age group of 18 and 30 among Emirati men and their state of health had not been given attention or much focus.

The study was completed between May 2015 and February 2017, with the assistance of medical and healthcare professionals for the standardised periodic diagnostics and laboratory analyses for the participants’ body mass index (BMI), fasting blood glucose, serum cholesterol, serum triglycerides and blood pressure.

The laboratory analyses were done at the three regional centres located in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah.

Following are the conclusions:

* Of the 33,327, 50 per cent or 16,664 were either obese or overweight at age 18.

* Of the 33,327, 42 per cent or 13,997 were in the normal BMI range at age 18.

* Of the 33,327, 41 per cent or 13,664 had impaired fasting blood glucose which, if neglected, results in diabetes.

* Of the 33,327, 4.7 per cent or 1,551 were already diabetic.

* Of the 33,327, only 29 per cent or 9,665 were in the normal BMI range by age 29.

* Of the 33,327, 70 per cent or 23,329 were overweight or obese by age 29.

“The mean BMI was 26.8 kilogrammes per metre square which is already in the overweight range. Overall, 7,720 subjects were overweight (24.4 per cent) and 8,835 (28.0 per cent) were obese. The proportion of subjects who were obese rose progressively from 25 per cent in subjects aged 18 years to 36.2 per cent in those aged 29 years.”

* Of the 33,327, 62 per cent or 20,663 have been experiencing at least one or a combination of cardiometabolic risk factor/s namely elevated BMI, blood pressure, glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol.

One medical study defined cardiometabolic risks as “the possibilities of developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus as a consequence of the presence of insulin resistance and atherogenic dyslipidemia, with the latter being characterised by the presence of low high-density lipoproteins and cholesterol, and high triglycerides.”

On Wednesday, Alzaabi said, “Our findings underline the serious nature of cardiometabolic risk factors and associated disease in this region. At age 18, 42 per cent of the study subjects were in the normal BMI range, but this drastically decreased to only 29 per cent at age 29. These figures are shocking. The question is, ‘What happens during this critical timeframe to make majority of the young Emirati men overweight or obese?”

They have the following proposals which must be applied to all regardless of gender and race:

* Educational measures directed at parents and schools to encourage children to eat healthily and to maintain their weight.

* Systematic laboratory tests for diabetes and cardio-metabolic risk factors among the young adults.

* Encouragements and lessons leading to lifestyle and diet/nutrition modifications once diabetes and cardio-metablic risk factors have been diagnosed.

* Continuous and close monitoring of the conditions of the young adults classified as overweight, obese and suffering from all the health-related conditions.

The authors wrote: “The findings of our study suggest that their presence in young people under 30 cannot be neglected; particularly in individuals who are obese.”

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