A British man has scooped Dh5,000 for winning the RAK Diabetes Challenge.
Bahawooddin Saiyed, 58, a teacher who lives in Sharjah, lost 11kg and cut his blood sugar level by 50 per cent to be declared overall winner, while also claiming top spot in the male category, it was announced on Tuesday.
Saira Malik, 35, from Pakistan, also took home Dh5,000 after cutting her blood sugar by 28.73 per cent to win the female category.
The 12-week challenge run by RAK Hospital and the Ministry of Health and Prevention saw 3,000 people take part. Almost all of them managed to lose weight, bring their blood sugar level down and start to live a healthier lifestyle, allowing them to manage diabetes.
Cash prizes worth Dh40,000 were up for grabs for the winners in three main groups: physical category (male), physical category (female) and virtual category. There was also a slot for businesses.
The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is increasing worldwide. The UAE has one of the world’s highest rates at 18.7 per cent. Doctors said lifestyle changes can prevent the disease.
“Knowing that type 2 diabetes can be reversed and also seeing the effect it has had on certain members of my family I was intent on turning things around,” said Mr Saiyed, who was 120kg before the competition started.
“With the support of my family, I made the necessary dietary changes and most of all reduced my portion sizes, ate my meals at prescribed times, increased vegetable intake, reduced rice, potato and bread intake and didn't eat after 7pm.”
Mr Saiyed said he also did more exercise and was helped by weekly webinars from medics at RAK Hospital. “It is just the start of a journey to achieving a healthier lifestyle,” he said.
Type 2 diabetes is usually linked to poor lifestyle choices such as bad diet and little exercise. Losing weight, eating healthier food and increasing exercise are seen as important in managing the condition.
Throughout the 12-week challenge, participants were assessed on a range of factors such as blood sugar levels attached to haemoglobin (HbA1c).
Haemoglobin carries oxygen around the body and is an important indicator for how well diabetes is controlled.
A normal indicator is below 5.7 per cent, while anything above that could indicate pre-diabetes or full diabetes.
The participants had an average reading of 7.49 before the contest. This was reduced to an average of 5.07, along with an average weight loss of 4kg by the end.
Ms Malik said she has been a diabetic for 10 years and this was the first time her blood sugar levels were in the normal range.
“It is really a big achievement for me,” she said. “I was encouraged to incorporate regular walks into my schedule. I think health-related challenges like these should be held every once in a while to keep us motivated and healthy.”
Dr Raza Siddiqui, executive director of RAK Hospital, said the contest, being held for the first time, showed how diabetes can be controlled.
“It clearly establishes that we can win the battle against the global pandemic of diabetes by adopting a continually holistic and preventive lifestyle,” he said.
Prof Adrian Kennedy, chief wellness officer at Arabian Wellness and Lifestyle Management at RAK Hospital, said the contest showed how people can manage the condition.
“If not managed well, diabetes causes a wide range of complications including, and not limited to, coronary artery disease, diabetic retinopathy [vision loss], kidney problems, atherosclerosis [hardening of arteries], diabetic neuropathy [nerve damage], leading to a huge drop in quality of life for patients and their caretakers,” said Mr Kennedy.
“Through RAK Diabetes Challenge 2022, our attempt was to bring a positive change for individuals, communities and society by empowering them with the information and education essential for the superior medical and lifestyle management of diabetes.”
Winners (Physical Category — Male)
1. Bahawooddin Saiyed
2. Rizwan Rahat
3. Michael Formales Mascarina
Winners (Physical Category — Female)
1. Saira Waseem Malik
2. Lourdes Mapoy Dimaunahan
3. Sapana Joshi
Winners (Virtual Category)
1. Sindu George Bosco
2. Zarina Begum
3. Paramprit Kaur Harkirat Singh
Winners (Corporate Category)
1. Stevin Rock
2. Saqr Port