Apart from being genetic, the issue of obesity has assumed alarming proportions globally. With a very high rate in the GCC countries, the region is known as a hotspot of obesity.
The rate of obesity in the Sultanate of Oman has been a matter of concern among health practitioners. They find people with obesity prone to many other lifestyle diseases, including diabetes, hypertension and high level of cholesterol, which ultimately leads to heart-related problems.
Raising concern over rising cases of obesity in the country, doctors called for corrective measures, including physical activities and a balanced diet in daily routine.
In a recent statement Dr Ahmed Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health, said more than half of the Omani population were overweight now, or 30 per cent of the population has a BMI (body and mass index) of more than 30.
During a media tour of the recently launched Oman International Hospital (OIH), senior consultant surgeons Dr Raad al Mehdi and Dr Roberto Cayon raised concern over the high rate of obesity and said different climatic conditions have different obesity rates.
People know that they need to be alert to avoid being obese, still, they indulge in lousy health practices that lead to consequences beyond redemption, they said “Obesity has now been recognised as a disease. Like other diseases, it needs prevention and care even after cure. There are genetic elements and lifestyle elements in it,” said Dr Raad al Mehdi.
“Lifestyle is in a mess with food, time spent in air conditions, and other elements of convenience that hardly require any physical activity... For example, from an AC house, you come to an AC car and land at an AC office. All through hardly there is any physical activity because any chance of it is being ruled out by using elevators to reach to desired floors in shops and offices,” he said.
When asked why the prevalence of obesity is high in the GCC countries, Dr Roberto Cayon said, “We blame it on lifestyle. But the reason behind this lifestyle is the climate which is very hot generally. In hot weather, people avoid doing physical activity and live mostly in the comforts of AC. Even though they want some outdoor physical activity the climate does not allow. So it is highly recommended to hit a gym or do some exercises at home.”
Of course, food has a big role to play. “It cannot happen that you don’t do any physical work and eat as much as you want, or overeat in the comforts of air-conditioners.”
The doctors advised parents to train children from the very beginning about the choice of food and include physical activities in their daily routine.
Research done by Dr Sultan al Nohair substantiates the above-mentioned facts leading to obesity.
“Over the last two decades, there is increased consumption of fast foods and sugar-dense beverages (eg, sodas). Simultaneously, technological advances – cars, elevators, escalators, and remotes have led to a decrease in the level of activity.
Traditional dependence on locally grown natural products such as dates, vegetables, wheat and has also shifted. Changes in food consumption, socioeconomic and demographic factors, physical activity, and urbanisation are being important factors that contribute to the increased prevalence of obesity in the region,” said Dr Al Nohair in his work.
Among many other health issues, the National Nutrition Strategy 2020-2030 of the Sultanate of Oman has well perceived the issue of obesity.
The strategy and its framework identified a multi-sectoral approach across the government and community to address the persistent health problems, including increasing overweight, obesity, and diet-related non-communicable diseases.