UAE reviews measures to control obesity of people - GulfToday

UAE reviews measures to control obesity of people


Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

March 4 is “World Obesity Day” and the Ministry of Health and Prevention alongside specialists in the UAE including officials of international institutions is encouraging everyone to be on the move and get more serious in avoiding excessive weight gain as the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has also heightened obesity rates worldwide.

Regarding the relationship between obesity, COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases, Canadian Specialist Hospital (CSH) consultant laparoscopic/general and obesity surgeon Dr. Basim Alkhafaji told Gulf Today: “The oxygen level as it is, is not the same for a healthy body and an obese body. The lungs of an obese person have to do double the work than a healthy body to provide oxygen for his entire body. Now when COVID-19 hits a healthy person, his respiratory system gets weak.

"His lungs would not be able to do the required function and his oxygen levels might go down because of this. But, since his body is healthy, he would be able to recover from it gradually as the virus leaves his body. When it comes to an obese person, his lungs are already struggling to provide oxygen for the body. This becomes worse when he is hit with COVID-19 and this will also invite other respiratory diseases into his body and take a longer time to recover.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the World Obesity Federation (WOF), formerly the International Association for the Study of Obesity and the International Obesity Task Force, released its global research conducted relative to the ongoing pandemic.

WOF Senior Policy adviser/main author Dr. Tim Lobstein noted that death rates have been often 10 higher in countries where more than 50 per cent of the population is overweight, resulting in 2.2 million of the 2.5 million COVID-19 global deaths recorded in countries with high levels of obesity.

However, in the Gulf, together with New Zealand and Australia, this is not the case as even if the overweight prevalence among adults is at over 60 per cent, COVID-19 deaths have been relatively low at 10 per 100,000. These records demonstrated how governments could be effective in battling SARS-CoV2, Lobstein explained, adding that the situation could be more evident with the roll-out of the vaccines.

CSH clinical dietician Ayaa Al Nemar and Alkhafaji said that based on their respective observational data, COVID-19 indeed exponentially spiked obesity rates

as a result of more hours at home, less physical activity and the seemingly unending food binging of highly-processed food. Both said the only solutions are the opposite.

Regarding healthy eating and lifestyle, Thailand Consul General for Dubai and the Northern Emirates Chairat Sirivat who had mentioned that he normally eats salad for dinner, said: “My healthy lifestyle has become a normal thing for me and my wife for decades. Obesity and high blood pressure cause a lot of trouble for the younger generation and people in the middle age so it has been less food, less starch or low carbohydrates and emphasis on eating protein, fresh fruit and vegetables every meal (for us).

"To live a happy life, you have to limit yourself. You can eat anything but not too much. You have to learn what your body wants so that you will have no problem (aging). Eating less food also means you can conserve our environment for the future generations as well. Each day a lot of people in this world have no food so if you consume less food, it is not only good for your health but you can also help our society and environment.”

The consul general and his wife go on a four to six-kilometre of brisk walking every night. They go out-of-town every weekend for more outdoor activities such as mountain trekking and enjoying nature at the trails.

The World Health Organisation defines obesity as the “abnormal excessive fat accumulation that presents risk to health.” Al Nimer says one comes to know whether he is overweight or obese through the calculation of his body mass index (BMI): “Generally, a person with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is overweight. A person with a BMI of over 30 is obese.”

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