Curbing obesity top priority during the pandemic - GulfToday

Curbing obesity top priority during the pandemic


Obesity can be fatal where the virus is concerned.

At a time when people the world over are grounded at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, the dangers of putting on weight could not have been overemphasised. The importance of World Obesity Day, observed on March 4, in this regard cannot be overlooked.

The effects are more pronounced in Western nations such as the UK and America. Being overweight is a major risk for people infected with the new coronavirus and the United States is particularly vulnerable because of high obesity levels there.

Obesity can be fatal where the virus is concerned. It has been cited as a possible explanation for higher than average per-capita COVID-19 death rates in the US city of New Orleans and in Mexico.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to tackle obesity and has himself lost weight since he was admitted to intensive care with COVID-19.

Johnson is convinced his Covid condition became more serious because of his weight – said to be 17.5 stone (111kg) at the time he was taken to hospital.

World Obesity Day seeks to address the root causes of obesity and the resulting chronic diseases.

In this respect, the UAE has pulled out all stops in the war against excessive weight gain.

The ministry has teamed up with the state’s health authorities to implement a national plan with specific timeframes and performance indicators to enhance the appropriate health environment and encourage individuals and families to adopt healthy lifestyles enabling them to deal with obesity, something that contributes to achieving the objectives of the national initiative “Promoting awareness of healthy lifestyles”.

Among the outstanding achievements the ministry made in the treatment of obesity was the obtaining of international accreditation as a centre of excellence in bariatric surgery by the Joint Commission International (JCI) by the Al Qassimi Hospital Sharjah, making it the world’s first hospital outside the United States to have received this prestigious award.

The ministry has also established more such centres for the treatment of obesity and increased the number of obesity clinics and hospitals equipped with competent medical teams and state-of-the-art equipment to perform bariatric surgeries. This is in addition to conducting obesity and overweight clinical research studies, utilising mobile applications in spreading obesity-related outreach campaigns, and setting up a database for patients who underwent bariatric surgeries to follow up on their health conditions.

In addition to healthy diet programmes and physical activity initiatives for children and all family members, the ministry has launched many initiatives and programmes to raise awareness of the hazards of obesity and to help individuals make substantial changes to their lifestyles, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and risk factors associated with overweight and obesity.

As part of its efforts to expand the scope of outreach campaigns, the ministry launched the “Together We Move” campaign to promote physical activity among women of all ages. The ministry also launched two campaigns to enhance people’s awareness about the harmful effects of sweetened drinks.

The ministry’s official account of “Ma’komCampaign” offers direct consultations and tips about healthy food, physical activity, and disease prevention, and healthy recipes, besides several contests to encourage healthy lifestyles.

This is in addition to organising several educational programmes, such as the “Junior Chef” contest and the Educational Virtual Workshops Programme, which was launched to ensure the continuity of public awareness efforts amid the pandemic.

In a nation where the comfort zone has reached stratospheric levels, the temptation of slipping into a sedentary lifestyle is very high. As Boris Johnson said, “Losing weight is, frankly, one of the ways that you can reduce your own risks from coronavirus.” Ultimately, it all boils down to attitude and willpower.

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