Bareen International Hospital

The battle against obesity in the UAE is far from over, warn healthcare professionals at Bareen International Hospital in Mohammad Bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi. With 30% of the world’s population being obese or overweight, according to the World Health Organization, the figures are more alarming in the Middle East.

The prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents ranges from 5% to 14% in males and from 3% to 18% in females. Furthermore, in the UAE for example, obesity levels are as high as 37% of the population.

Against this background, Bareen International Hospital has announced the launch of its inaugural Take the Stairs challenge, a social media-driven campaign designed to encourage people young and old to swap the lifts for the stairs, in a bid to boost exercise levels across the region.

The 30-day challenge will see people across the UAE forego using the lifts to reach their workplaces or homes and pledge to use the stairs instead. Participants are also encouraged to post images of their climb alongside the #TakeTheStairs hashtag.

The campaign launches following the release of figures that highlight the impact of lack of exercise and unhealthy nutritional choices on the waistlines of the nation.

According to the World Health Organization, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these, over 650 million were obese.

Shockingly, the majority of the world’s population live in countries where being overweight and obesity kills more people than being underweight. Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 globally were overweight or obese, according to the latest figures.

Moreover, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that about a third of the global population, including adults and children, exceed a healthy weight. About 10% of people in the world are obese, according to the findings.

And worryingly, medical studies have linked being overweight and obesity to a higher risk of health complications like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, depression, respiratory problems, major types of cancer and more.

Alongside statistics that show obesity in the UAE is double the world average, there are also a growing number of people with type 2 diabetes, linked to being overweight, with a huge 19% of the population already suffering from the disease.

With many of us living and working in high-rise buildings, Bareen International Hospital’s Take The Stairs Challenge is designed to provide a small change that people can commit to daily, if they are able to do so, to increase their heart rate and achieve the health and fitness benefits of aerobic exercise.

Aerobic exercise helps keep one’s heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and can help in weight loss. By committing to taking the steps as part of the challenge, it is hoped that the campaign will initiate long-term changes in lifestyle that can combat the high levels of obesity in the region.

Dr. El Zaqui Ladha, Consultant – Bariatric and General Surgery at Bareen International Hospital is spearheading the initiative and said: “With statistics showing 10% of people in the world are obese, and the UAE doubles that world average, people are putting themselves at higher risk of heath complications like type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. In the world that we live in, many of us lead sedentary lifestyles, where we spend a lot of time in our cars and at our desks. We are excited to launch our #TakeTheStairs challenge, and encourage people to make small changes to be more active in the long-term.”

“With so many high-rise buildings in the UAE, it is often easier to take the lifts. But where possible, we are encouraging people to take the stairs – even if it is only for a few floors. Even a small amount of exercise that helps to raise the heart rate will make a difference to fitness levels for every person. Whether you are six or 60, we hope that people will join and pledge to take the stairs.”