Make healthy choices!

Can eating less vegetables and fruits, doing less physical activity or being less bothered about one’s eating habits lead to lifestyle diseases?
Yes, as much as 60.7 per cent of the Oman population are reported to eat less than 5 servings of fruit or vegetables on average per day; 38.6 per cent of the population does not perform sufficient physical activity and 15 per cent of men in the Sultanate are reported to be using tobacco products, and these unfavourable figures are contributing to the increasing number of Non-Communicable Diseases which can otherwise be reversed if proper care is taken.
Around 39.3 per cent of women are obese while 4 per cent of children less than 5 years of age are reported to be overweight or obese and 23 per cent of the men are thought to be overweight or obese.
Non-communicable or chronic diseases lead to 72 per cent of all deaths in Oman with 36 per cent of these deaths estimated to be caused by cardiovascular diseases, followed by cancer (11 per cent), diabetes (8 per cent) and chronic respiratory disease (2 per cent).
“Non-communicable diseases are chronic diseases that develop slowly and silently. The 4 main diseases that lead to the greatest burden in terms of mortality are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases,” says Dr Shadha al Raisi, Director of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD).

CAUSES OF CHRONIC DISEASES
Although there are a number of metabolic and genetic reasons that lead to an individual developing any of the non-communicable diseases, there are 5 main risk factors that make any individual prone to developing a chronic disease. These risk factors include physical inactivity, consuming unhealthy diets, tobacco use, the harmful use of alcohol and air pollution.

RISK FACTORS IN OMAN
According to the 2017 National NCD survey, 15.7 per cent of the population in Oman are thought to have raised blood sugar and 33.3 per cent are thought to have raised blood pressure.
The primary healthcare facilities also diagnose more than 6,000 cases of diabetes every year and more than 2,000 cases of cancer.

REASONS FOR HIGH PREVALENCE OF RISK FACTORS
Numerous countries in the region have experienced an economic boom in the past number of decades.
This has led to urbanisation
and a number of factors that lead to individuals favouring
a sedentary life style.
“Along with globalisation and the growing numbers of fast food restaurants and products that tend to be high in fat, sugar or salt has all lead to a change in the habits of individuals and therefore a rise in these risk factors,” Dr Al Raisi told the Observer.

REMEDY IS IN OUR HANDS
“Choosing healthier food options and ensuring adequate physical activity should be a way of life for all individuals,” says Dr Shadha.
Adopting a lifestyle that makes wise decisions to choose the healthier option will not only prevent the development of a non-communicable disease in an adult, but it will also help make this healthier lifestyle, a way of life for children which in turn will help them too to choose healthier options.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 90 per cent of cardiovascular diseases, 80 per cent of type 2 diabetes and 40 per cent of cancers may be prevented by avoiding risk factors.