Misconception When we think of the global obesity epidemic, we tend to conjour up images of US-Americans, literally hefting along excess pounds as they go about their lives across America. We may also recall that Canada and most other Western countries have a problem.
Study • But, interestingly, nowhere is the obesity problem as big as in the countries of the Gulf Region and the Middle East (exceeded perhaps only by populations on remote Oceanic islands). • According to the United Arab Emirates global school-based student health survey (GSHS) 2005 fact sheet, over 30% of 13-15 year olds exceed the 85th percentile for body weights. The adult population (though it is hard to find accurate statistics) apparently does not fare much better. Notes: https://apps.who.int/infobase/reportviewer.aspx?rptcode=ALL&uncode=784&dm=5&surveycode=102544a1#pgstring1
Findings • Although the 1st International Abu Dhabi Diabetes Conference, in the United Arab Emirates conference focuses on diabetes, it is obvious that the prime driver of the diabetes epidemic in that region of the world (as elsewhere) is the obesity crisis. • It is therefore not surprising that the organizers have opted to include sessions on obesity assessment and management (although most of the conference of course focuses on diabetes management, which Dr. Sharma have often described as “palliative care”).
Eating with No Worry • As should be obvious to anyone who has recently visited the UAE, population-based prevention measures in a society that spends most of its time indoors (when it’s 40-50 degrees C outside) and enjoys food as one of the only officially endorsed “vices” (there are tough restrictions on alcohol, gambling and other worldly “pleasures”), is likely to be challenging if not simply impossible. • Given that the Arab susceptibility to obesity appears similar to other Asians in that they appear more prone to abdominal obesity with all its dire metabolic consequences, diabetes may in fact be the least of their worries.
About Dr. Arya M. Sharma Dr. Arya M. Sharma, MD/PhD, FRCPC is Professor of Medicine & Chair for Obesity Research and Management at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. He is also the Medical Director of the Edmonton Capital Health Region’s interdisciplinary Weight Wise Program. Dr. Sharma is also the Scientific Director of the Canadian Obesity Network funded through the federal Networks of Centres Excellence program. Dr. Sharma has authored and co-authored more than 250 scientific articles and has lectured widely on the etiology and management of obesity and related cardiovascular disorders. He sends his informative messages through his blog Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes. For more information on Obesity visit; Website: http://www.drsharma.ca/ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Arya-Sharma/115328778486319