Bahrain steps up battle against obesity
Manama, July 16, 2013
More than 90 per cent of health risks arising out of obesity in adults and children have been tackled in Bahrain as a result of increased awareness and nationwide programmes, said a top government official.
In the last two years a team of experts has successfully worked with health clinics and groups of Bahrainis to reduce obesity related problems, Health Ministry health promotion director Dr Amal Al Jodwer was quoted as saying in the Gulf Daily News.
"We have nutrition and health clinics in all the five governorates, where we randomly selected about 30 people who were either obese or overweight," she said.
"These people were briefed on the issue and given tips to lead healthy lifestyle by experts which they followed religiously. We are still compiling accurate figures to reflect our progress, but we could say about 90 per cent of the problems were tackled by those who were part of the group."
It comes as Bahrain ranked fifth among the fattest Gulf states in the 2013 State of Food and Agriculture: Food Systems for Better Nutrition report, which was released by the United Nations last month.
Kuwait was ranked the fattest GCC country with 42.8 per cent obese adults, followed by Saudi Arabia at 35.2 per cent, the UAE at 33.7 per cent and Qatar at 33.1 per cent.
Bahrain scored 32.6 per cent, while the least prevalent nation in the Gulf was Oman with 22 per cent obese adults.
The country with the world's most endemic obesity problem was Cook Islands with 84.1 per cent.
"This is a good sign and shows that we in Bahrain are moving in the right direction," said Dr Al Jowder.
She said health conscious people, who regularly exercise at gyms or outdoors, have contributed to Bahrain becoming healthier.
"This was not the case two years ago. Now, one has to book appointments for fitness classes because there are many customers. This also applies to health clubs," she said.
Dr Al Jowder said that by engaging in "small-scale exercises" participants in the clinics have shown significant health improvements.
"Men, women and children who were given tips in these groups have lost weight and reduced their cholesterol levels while maintaining proper blood pressure and sugar level," she explained. "Times have changed now and giving out information to the public always is rubbish. It's all about ensuring that this information is actually implemented on the ground."
She also urged government authorities to adopt a new "health" approach on all policies to ensure people stay fit.
"For example when we talk about commerce, the health aspect of food labelling and other parts such as pricing should be considered. The same goes for councillors who should consider health policy and work towards having more parks in their area," she said.
The report also states that some 870 million people were still hungry in the world in 2010-12, while 1.4 billion were overweight, of which 500 million were obese. – TradeArabia News Service