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Watch your weight

World Obesity Day observance moved from October 11 to March 4 this year to make it globally convenient

The incidence of obesity in Oman has currently assumed alarming proportions and serious measures are needed to make the populace fitter, healthier and rid of the several factors that cause overweight and obesity.

According to Dr Noor al Busaidi, director of the National Diabetes and Endocrine Center and president of Oman Diabetes Association (ODA) which organised a series of activities at the Endocrine Center in Bowsher, on March 4, to create awareness on the dangers and diseases associated with obesity, “Obesity is a global problem and it has assumed alarming proportions not only in Oman and the MENA region but around the world, too. The prevalence of obesity has been increasing steadily over the past 20-30 years. In Oman, the latest survey conducted by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the World Health Organisation has revealed that overweight and obese people has reached 66 per cent in Oman, of which female obesity accounts for 40 per cent.”

She further explained that those with a BMI (Body mass index) of 30 and above can be termed as obese while those with a BMI of 25-29.9 can be termed as overweight. Research shows that over 200 various diseases and health conditions including 30 types of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnoea, etc are associated with obesity, she said, adding, “Obesity is the mother of all diseases, hence it is necessary for people in Oman to watch their weight and take corrective measures.

Ninety per cent of all obese people also suffer from diabetes, therefore, it was important to treat the core of it, which is the weight of an individual, Dr Noor said.

Some countries do not label obesity as a disease, because if you call it a disease, then you need to treat it. Obesity, is a condition that can be reversed by lifestyle changes, medication and surgery, she said, stressing that lifestyle changes alone will not be helpful or long-lasting. She also pointed out that some patients in the region, post bariatric surgery, tend to regain their lost weight because they do not continue lifestyle changes and prescribed medication.

“Over the last few years, the World Obesity Federation has also been stressing on Obesity related stigma. People tend to tease obese people without realising that many people become obese for reasons beyond their control, like genetic factors or following an accident,” Dr Noor said, adding that we need to fight discrimination against obese individuals in society.

She further explained that the human body is exposed to varied conditions in the modern lifestyle, from stress, food, polluted air to environmental toxins, all of which have a bearing on how the body reacts to these. It is called endocrinal disturbance, which affects the signaling of the body – how it reacts to various stimuli.

She further pointed out that women need to take extra care because they tend to put on extra weight during pregnancies and which ultimately affects the human genome in the long run. So, obesity may not start at birth but even before that and so steps like pre-marital counselling will help in spreading awareness, for couple to take necessary precautions even before deciding to have a baby, she asserted.

Lastly, Dr Noor emphasised that health is not just the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and that concerted efforts are necessary from the government institutions, non-governmental organisations and individuals in society to make the nation healthy.

Five factors that cause obesity

Dr Noor pointed out five components in one’s lifestyle can cause obesity. These include:

Choice of unbalanced diet/junk food

Lack of physical activity/sedentary lifestyle

Lack of sleep/irregular hours of sleep

Stressful life

Manipulating the biological clock – eating/sleeping at wrong intervals, plus addictions like smoking/alcohol consumption, etc