This year’s Arab Health Congress has opened with positive news about young people’s health in the United Arab Emirates - however lifestyle related diseases remain the biggest issue affecting the health of those in the country.
Speaking at the event, which this year has been held in Dubai, associate professor and chairman of the Institute of Public Health at UAE University Dr Ian Blair told attendees that the future for the health of the country’s young people is looking bright.
Obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease rates in the country remain high, however the number of people suffering from these conditions appears to have levelled out in recent years - with younger generations on track to lead healthier lives than their parents.
A Dubai Health Authority and Dubai Statistics Centre joint survey carried out in 2014 showed that previously released statistics may have exaggerated the nation’s problem with obesity. In its survey just under 32% of the of the 3298 participants were classified as borderline obese, whereas this figure sat at 63% in 2013’s Global Burden of Disease report.
Whilst the UAE’s battle with the bulk may not be as bad as feared, it does remain one of the biggest problems in the country - especially for the native Emirati population.
Over 40% of participants in Abu Dhabi’s recent health screening programme had diabetes or prediabetes, whilst 60% were judged to be overweight.
The country has started to fight back against these issues, with smoking bans and greater education around how to lead a healthy lifestyle. Positive statistics for young people illustrates that this tactic does appear to be working, however with an ageing population bringing its own issues a drastic drop in the number of people suffering lifestyle related conditions would be very welcome.
Despite facing a range of challenges the UAE is in the ideal position to combat these issues. Funding for the healthcare system is higher than almost anywhere else on the planet, and the country is home to some of the world’s newest and most modern facilities.
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