Published in City Times
A Weighty Issue
Obesity is more than a cosmetic problem. It is a health hazard that is linked to serious medical conditions including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and other respiratory problems, infertility and certain types of cancers in both men and women, says Prof.Mike Lean, a leading international obesity expert and Head of the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Glasgow. According to a MoH official, 650% of the UAE population is overweight.
Prof. Lean addressed a gathering of top doctors in the Gulf region gathered in Dubai on March 27, to discus obesity. The Consensus Meeting was sponsored by Abbott Laboratories, a prominent health care company which recently pioneered Reductil, a revolutionary weight loss drug.
Dr.Lean said, “Obesity is a global problem which is worsening. More than 250 million adults worldwide are obese and many more are overweight. Yet, it’s a very much neglected public health issue. But obesity is a disease, the development of which is preventable and its prevention and management is the responsibility of both individuals, and a commitment from all sectors of society.”
According to Dr.Emad Ghanawi, UAE-based diabetologist and endocrinologist, “Obese people are at high risk of dying younger, but intentional weight loss can reduce the mortality rate, especially for those with diabetes. Even a moderate weight reduction can contribute to health benefits.”
Genetics, fat and calorie rich diet, sedentary lifestyles, psychological factors influencing eating habits and certain illnesses such as Cushing’s syndrome can lead to obesity or a tendency to gain weight, according to the doctors.
Obesity is medically defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/metre square, or greater. BMI is weight of an individual divided by the square of his height. Anyone with BMI greater than 25, certainly increases his risk of falling prey to serious health disorders. The specialists advice reduced calorie diet, exercise and behavioural modification to treat and manage obesity. “Eating low fat products should be the norm rather than the exception,” emphasizes Prof.Lean. However, these measures need to be complemented with weight control drugs. Reductil, a prescription drug, in this sense scores over other modes of treatment in that, without whetting or suppressing appetite, it brings about a satiety even with a small intake of food.
Sibutramine containing Reductil has been tested and tried on approximately 8.5 million people across the world over a period of five years. Its side effects which are temporary, include nausea, headache, dry mouth, anorexia, constipation and insomnia. Reductil, however is not for everyone. Pregnant women, patients with uncontrolled blood pressure, those taking certain kinds of drugs for depression or Parkinson’s, youngsters below the age of 18 and those above 60 years of age, are adviced against taking it.