By Gavin Davids
Poll shows 75% believe they are leaner than they are, obesity at ‘epidemic levels’
Despite obesity levels reaching epidemic proportions, UAE residents are largely oblivious to their burgeoning waistlines, a new survey has found.
Some 70 percent of UAE residents are classed as overweight or obese, a trend that is poised to trigger a surge in chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, found a poll carried out for Philips Healthcare.
Yet 75 percent of the 750 people surveyed mistakenly said they believed themselves to be of normal weight, or leaner than they are.
“The US gets a lot of stick about its percentage of population that’s overweight, but in the Gulf, it’s reaching what some would characterise as epidemic proportions, and that has a knock on effect,” Peter DeBenedictis, spokesman for Philips Healthcare, told Arabian Business.
“You have diabetes, you have cardiovascular disease, already the healthcare system is strained, and if you start extrapolating these numbers out, you’ll have a problem,” he added.
The UAE’s rising obesity levels have already triggered a dramatic increase in type 2 diabetes.
The Gulf state ranks only behind the Pacific island of Nauru for diabetes incidence, and is closely followed by Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
A host of factors have been blamed for the bulge in waistlines, including rising urban incomes, the adoption of a western, fast-food led diet and a decline in physical exercise.
The Weqaya screening programme, launched by the Abu Dhabi government in 2008, collated data from 95 percent of the 374, 653 Emirati residents in the capital.
The data found that 34 percent of Emirati adults were overweight, a further 36 percent were obese and only 30 percent had a normal healthy weight.
The programme also found that 56 percent of those screened had ‘central obesity’ or obesity around the abdomen, which is believed to be a major risk factor for type II diabetes.
Diederik Zeven, senior director and general manager, Middle East, Philips Healthcare, said that although the UAE was pushing for improved awareness, there was a need for the private sector to increase its involvement in order for the message to hit home.
“It cannot be done alone, it cannot be only the government that does this. I think the solution will be a government and private sector that jointly starts pushing this agenda,” he told Arabian Business. “The first stage, that awareness stage, can make a difference.”
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Mcdonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominoes, and the plethora of other restaurants/ready to eat items in our supermarkets (including cereals) that are frying our foods to oblivion are an obvious danger to anyone that consumes them, whether occasionally or on a regular basis. These are a danger to our health, our societies, and our children. They MUST be banned as they are just as dangerous as illicit drugs. The UAE is making its mark as a frontrunner of innovation, let them take this to another level. Banning these foods will put us on the map - let us be the first society to do so and the rest will follow. We dont need these foods whatsoever, we dont need them ever. Let us show the world what we can do to fight this easily defeatable disease. Let us return to our roots and appreciate food in its natural form as God intended it to be... Beauty lies in nature, why create genetic beasts of Food?
From a biz. perspective, why allow these co.'s get rich at our expense. Fat = Misery = Depression.
I have hard to believe that people will rather go for a Mcburger than humus or moutaba... arab food is quite tasty but locals all over the GCC have switched to eat the worst of western food.
Then one of the things you can get here very easily is great fruit juices, still people go for sodas.