UAE Needs to Drop Obesity Stigma

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Fraser Clarke

The stigma surrounding obesity is preventing people in the UAE seeking weight loss support, increasing their chances of developing a range of other serious health conditions it has been claimed.

Speaking at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow, Dr Rita Nawar - who has worked as an endocrinologist in the Emirates for 12 years - explained how many weight-management patients are already diabetic by the time they come to see her.

Dr Nawar was speaking having been involved in the Action 10 survey, focused on building the understanding between medics and obese patients.

Covering 11 different locations globally, the survey revealed that it normally took six years for overweight people to notice their issue and seek medical assistance, with the stigma associated with obesity often given as a reason for this.

Furthermore the report, which is set to be fully published in the summer, should a clear misunderstanding between medics and overweight patients. 70% of medical workers said that they believed obese patients had no interest in losing weight - whilst 93% of those surveyed who were obese expressed a desire to return to a healthy size.

Statistics show that a sizeable 68% of people in the UAE are classified as overweight, whilst 32% of this group are obese. These figures are concerning, however not as worrying as those recorded in Kuwait - which show that almost ¾ of adults would be classified as overweight.

Speaking at the conference, Dr Nawar explained her plans for reducing the stigma related to obesity. She called on: “A new system that did not classify someone as obese for simply having a certain body mass index, but also recognised being overweight as a chronic disease that needed treatment in the same way as high blood pressure.”

Would re-structuring how obesity is thought of be an effective way of helping to manage the issue - or would it make little difference? Let us know via our social media channels.