It may be impossible to introduce a fat tax for overweight people to stop them dying early but the statistics with the Ministry of Health about heart-related problems shows it is increasing all the time and most people in Oman take it lightly.
People who die from heart-related problems have increased by an alarming of 33 per cent in the last five years despite a comprehensive effort by hospitals to educate healthy habits. Overweight, according to local doctors, is the main instigator of sudden deaths.
Hospitals usually take a patient’s weight when they come in and that is mainly taken as a routine but not as an important indicator. The “don’t care” attitude obviously costs a lot of money to treat cholesterol and high blood pressure patients, and to be fair to the Ministry of Health, this is a major concern at a national level.
All it takes is a brisk daily walk or a regular trip to the gym while watching the body’s weight. But the bigger problem in Oman is not only idleness, but people like to overeat more than what their bodies need. I don’t think it is a cruel joke if a form of taxation is established to stop people from turning themselves into a rubbish bin. It could dramatically improve the lives of many people and stop many sudden deaths. At the same, the trauma they cause to their families.
Fatness takes away a big chunk in the running and medical costs of government hospitals. The money which is going to treat diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension would have been used better in other areas.
The hospital statistics also say overweight starts early in Oman and it has been increasing steadily in the last decade. It all about bad parenting. If mom and dad eat more than what is good for them, then children do exactly the same way.
Parents mostly concentrate on good education for their children and how they should behave in public. But they do not understand that their children would not be able to enjoy the fruits of good education if they are going to die at the age of 40 just because they did not eat the right food.
If they survive that age threshold, then the quality of their lives would be severely diminished. However, you don’t need doctors to tell you that Omanis are eating badly. Just look around you. There is evidence everywhere.
But the culture of overeating has been noticeable only in the last 30 years, inspired by the baby boom that started in the 1980s. Prior to that, Omanis knew exactly what to eat and they were never inactive.
Who is really to blame for the explosive excessiveness of fatness in the body? A recent health symposium blamed on lifestyle and the fact that people are better employed than in the past. The same symposium also blamed the fast foods that are available every corner of the country.
But what it did not say is that we need a compulsory curriculum in elementary schools on healthy eating. Not only would that educate six-year-olds how to take care of their bodies but maybe even “educate” their parents on healthy living. Maybe it is also high time the Ministry of Health got together with the Ministry of Education to plan it out. The core values of good diet habit must start early and must be introduced in the early stages of school.
What is the point of increasing the numeric and literacy competency in the curriculum when kids fatten up and are unsure of their future health? Going back to the “fat tax” and the unlikely possibility of becoming a reality, perhaps is not far-fetched to erect a similar structure to discourage big eaters who are the main liability in the government’s health budget.
Saleh Al Shaibany