Doctors urge UAE companies to encourage lunch breaks



DUBAI // Employers are being urged to ensure that their workers are given – and take – an hour off for lunch every day to improve their health and fitness.

Working through lunch is a common in the UAE’s competitive workplaces, with staff afraid that taking a break makes them look less productive than co-workers, doctors say.

“People want to give 100 per cent,” said Dr Shefali Verma, of the Institute for Biophysical Medicine at Dubai Healthcare City.

“They worry about the market and that jobs come and go, so they forget about themselves.”

This leads to unhealthy habits of sitting down all day and eating convenience food.

“They come in early, they work through lunch, and they eat rubbish because it’s fast and convenient,” said Dr Verma.

“I think this is what kills us in a way, when we forget what we put in our mouths.”

Employers perpetuate these bad habits by not enforcing lunch breaks, said Dr Verma.

“They don’t encourage it. And when one doesn’t take it, the other thinks, ‘Are they working harder?’ or ‘Will I look like I am not doing enough because I am taking too much time for myself?’

“It should be encouraged. You must take your lunch break.”

The general practitioner, who has a master’s degree in sports medicine, said workers should use a midday break to exercise or eat a nutritious meal, instead of being a “weekend warrior” and trying to fit in an active and healthy lifestyle only on days off.

“It is far more beneficial to be more consistent,” said Dr Verma. “This is what gets results when it becomes part of your routine. You are less likely to let it go.”

Those who do not will suffer in the long run, she said.

People in their 20s and 30s do not look ahead and realise the choices they make during these years will affect the state of their health in their 40s, Dr Verma said.

“As old fashioned as it may seem, it is that work-life balance that is so important.”

Dr Atul Chawla, a specialist in gastroenterology at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, agreed that employers should encourage an office-based workforce to take regular breaks.

“If they are having a one-hour break and take some exercise during that time, it rejuvenates the body,” said Dr Chawla.

“Sitting for long hours affects your concentration and you may become less alert.

“I would definitely encourage this one-hour break. I strongly recommend it. It refuels body and mind.”

A sitting-down culture only heightens the risk of lifestyle disorders such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension, he said.

“Many just eat something such as a snack or a sandwich in front of the laptop to save time, and finish the pressing deadlines as soon as possible,” said Dr Mirey Karavetian, a clinical dietician in Dubai and an assistant professor at Zayed University.

But this can lead to the dangerous habit of a person saving their biggest meal until late at night – when it should be the smallest of the day.

“Many reach home exhausted, starved, and do ‘mindless’ eating – a type of eating where you eat quantities far more than what you would have if you were not as stressed and tired,” she said.

“It is a leading cause of weight gain and serious chronic health conditions.”

jbell@thenational.ae

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

FIVE TRENDS THAT WILL SHAPE UAE BANKING

• The digitisation of financial services will continue

• Managing and using data effectively will become a competitive advantage

• Digitisation will require continued adjustment of operating models

• Banks will expand their role in the customer life through ecosystems

• The structure of the sector will change

FIXTURES

Monday, January 28
Iran v Japan, Hazza bin Zayed Stadium (6pm)

Tuesday, January 29
UAEv Qatar, Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium (6pm)

Friday, February 1
Final, Zayed Sports City Stadium (6pm)

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Company name: Almouneer
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1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

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Moral education lessons for young people is needed in a rapidly changing world, the head of the programme said.

Alanood Al Kaabi, head of programmes at the Education Affairs Office of the Crown Price Court - Abu Dhabi, said: "The Crown Price Court is fully behind this initiative and have already seen the curriculum succeed in empowering young people and providing them with the necessary tools to succeed in building the future of the nation at all levels.

"Moral education touches on every aspect and subject that children engage in.

"It is not just limited to science or maths but it is involved in all subjects and it is helping children to adapt to integral moral practises.

"The moral education programme has been designed to develop children holistically in a world being rapidly transformed by technology and globalisation."

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

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Source: Emirates

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Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia

The world fair will run for six months from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021.

It is expected to attract 25 million visits

Some 70 per cent visitors are projected to come from outside the UAE, the largest proportion of international visitors in the 167-year history of World Expos.

More than 30,000 volunteers are required for Expo 2020

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