Hospital fights obesity epidemic with free nutritional advice

More than a third of Emiratis are overweight and one in eight children is obese, according to experts, who say poor understanding of nutrition is a big factor.

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ABU DHABI // The American Hospital Dubai, taking aim at the country's burgeoning obesity epidemic, is offering free nutritional advice tomorrow. More than a third of Emiratis are considered overweight and one in eight children is obese, according to experts. Poor understanding of nutrition is, they claim, a major factor. Excess weight can also lead to high blood pressure, which afflicts one in six people in the country. One in five also suffer from diabetes, the second-highest rate in the world, behind only the tiny island nation of Nauru in the South Pacific.

Mariam Saleh, the hospital's nutrition manager, said: "There is a lot of nutrition misinformation in our communities. People who are looking for a quick fix for their nutritional problems tend to believe false claims by makers of dietary supplements." . Supplements can fill nutritional gaps in a poor diet, but it is "important to treat them with caution", she said. A doctor or nutritionist can teach patients what they are missing in their diets.

"Poor diet and physical inactivity, resulting in an energy imbalance, are the most important factors contributing to the increase in overweight and obesity in the UAE," Ms Saleh said. "People need to be better-educated to make better-informed and wiser choices with their food intake." The Nutrition Day will take place from 10am to 3pm at the outpatient building of the American Hospital Dubai.