WOMEN in the GCC are at a higher risk of becoming diabetic, with about 40 per cent of the gender being obese.
Latest statistics showed that around 35pc of men in the Gulf are also obese, prompting experts to call for more communal activities to promote the culture of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the first Bahrain Diabetes and Endocrine Review Conference, which concluded at the Gulf Hotel Convention and Spa yesterday.
“Both obesity and diabetes increased by five to 10pc over the past four decades, and in the GCC and the Mena region it has increased even more,” he told the GDN.
“In the Gulf, about 40pc of women and 35pc of men are obese, defined by body mass index above 30.
“All of these show that the increase of diabetes and obesity prevalence run parallel in the GCC.
“People in the Gulf are genetically prone to these conditions, but genes don’t change over four decades. What has changed is the interaction between the genes and the environment, which has changed over the past four decades with more Westernised diet and less physical activity.
“This has led to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes.”
Dr Saadi, a professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, explained that while genes could not be changed, environmental factors could be altered to prevent the disease and ultimately obesity.
“We have to start from the beginning with health education, mainly in schools, also about obesity and its complications,” he said.
“We have to start fresh by implementing healthy diets especially in schools, enhance physical activity, especially for women by making options for exercises.
“The weather is hot in this part of the world and people tend not to walk outside, so we need to have more communal activities to promote this culture of physical activity, mainly among women who spend their time at home.
“Diet and physical activity should be on the top of our agenda.”
The two-day conference was organised by the Royal Bahrain Hospital in co-ordination with healthcare agency QTC under the patronage of Supreme Council for Health chairman Dr Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa.
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