Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) has warned of the long-term dangers of not following a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Marking World Obesity Day, Seha said maintaining an ideal weight and following a healthy lifestyle, which starts with paying attention to the types of food you eat, helps to prevent weight-related illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and some types of cancer.
Maintaining a healthy weight also helps to control cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
To encourage more people to adopt a healthier lifestyle, Seha gave the example of an Emirati woman, aged 62, who lost around 33 kilograms in eight months following a programme devised by one of its ideal weight clinics. She has also seen significant improvements in her health.
When the woman visited Neima Healthcare Centre in Al Ain, she had difficulty walking short distances. She had issues with her breathing during and after walking, and experienced pains in her ears, dizziness and sleep problems.
Latifa Al Dhaheri, a nutritionist at the centre, said a treatment plan was drawn up for the woman, centred around a weight-loss programme.
After following the plan, the patient's weight fell from 113.3kg to 80kg.
She was able to walk for 90 minutes and her ability to breathe and be active with her children improved.
Ministry encourages healthier lifestyles
The Ministry of Health and Prevention says about 27.8 per cent of adults in the UAE are considered to be obese, according to the 2017-18 National Health Survey.
The prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents aged 5-17 years has reached 17.35 per cent, according to the latest statistics from a periodic examination of schoolchildren.
The World Health Organisation predicts that 2.7 billion adults worldwide will be overweight and obese by 2025.
Obesity and smoking are the major causes of increases in cancer, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes worldwide.
The ministry said, in co-operation with local health authorities, it promotes awareness of healthy lifestyles — part of a national action plan to deal with the challenge of obesity.
Several media awareness campaigns, such as the "Together We Move" campaign to promote physical activity among women aged 18-44 years, have been launched.
Other campaigns have highlighted the importance of healthy food and the harmful effects of sweetened drinks on health, in line with the government imposing a tax of 50 per cent on sweetened drinks and 100 per cent on energy drinks.
The ministry's Ma'kom for Active Life social media platform encourages the public to maintain their health, through health tips on healthy eating and physical activity.
It has also launched a "Healthy and Positive Workplace" initiative for its employees to create a supportive environment, encouraging them to adopt healthy lifestyles.