DUBAI // Healthy eating advice and special menus are being offered to Emirati diabetics during Ramadan by the Ministry of Health and Prevention.
Diabetics are not advised to fast during the holy month but are being warned about eating Emirati dishes that are high in sugar and fat.
The ministry has joined forces with the Emirates Diabetes Society and US health analyst Project Hope to provide tailor-made advice for diabetics through the Circle of Care programme which aims to improve the work of practitioners and the health of patients.
Overall, diabetes prevalence in the UAE runs at 19.3 per cent, according to the IDF Diabetes Atlas. UAE Vision 2021 aims to cut that to 16.28 per cent within five years.
The Circle of Care programme was developed following research by Project Hope involving 30 doctors across the UAE.
Dr Mohamed Farghaly, a member of UAE National Diabetes Guideline Committee and the DHA diabetic board, said chronic disease management relied on patients taking responsibility to make healthy choices.
“GP-to-patient interactions average around six hours a year, so the patient must have the knowledge about what is a healthy lifestyle,” Dr Farghaly said. “It needs a commitment from them - that is the main issue with diabetes management here in the UAE.
“We hope to develop with the Emiratis a type of food that gives them the exact amount of calories they need, as well as maintaining their traditions just by adjusting their diet to help control their diabetes.”
Some traditional dishes amended by healthier recipes included kusa mihshi, a chickpea and rice stew, eggplant bulgur pilaf and grain-free dolmas.
Katie Kowalski, a senior programme officer at Project Hope, the health organisation working on research into diabetes, said: “From our results, we’ve found nationals are having difficulty with lifestyle modification.
“It is important they focus on what is good and what is bad, not necessarily how they look.”
Ms Kowalski said that national dress was a common excuse to the doctors as to why exercise was not taken.
“National dress should not be an issue in diabetics managing their weight,” she said.