x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Indian fire tragedy was preventable

A reader says simple safety procedures could have saved lives in Kolkata. Other subjects: obesity, feminism, free speech and women's beaches.

A reader says a safety inspection could have prevented the fatal fire at a market in Kolkata. Bikas Das / AP
A reader says a safety inspection could have prevented the fatal fire at a market in Kolkata. Bikas Das / AP

Make sure you measure up

Your report on the obesity epidemic in the UAE, Watch the waistline, expats warned (February 27), will not come as a surprise to many.

What may come as a surprise, however, is that a significant number of people who read that article are overweight but do not consider themselves to be overweight. Because of that, they are putting their health at risk.

The problem is that we judge our own beliefs, attitudes and appearance by those around us. If we see people larger than us, this can reassure us that our weight must be OK. Or if all our friends are having second helpings, we should too.

Medical professionals are not concerned with an overweight individual's outward appearance, but with the significant short- and long-term health risks faced by a person who is overweight.

Measuring your waist circumference, no matter how tall you are, is an indication of abdominal obesity, and is currently one of the most valid ways of predicting an adult's health, more so than measuring Body Mass Index (BMI).

A waist circumference above 94cm for men and 80cm for women indicates internal fat deposits, which can coat the heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas, and increase the risk of chronic disease.

A measurement above 102cm for men and 88cm for women indicates abdominal obesity, greatly increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma and some cancers.

I encourage everyone to measure their waists halfway between the lowest rib and the top of the hipbone, roughly in line with the navel.

This will give you the best indication of whether you are putting your health at increased or significant risk, and whether you need to change your lifestyle and eating habits to make sure you can enjoy health and longevity.

Laura Easton, Al Ain

Free speech is not freedom to harass

I'd like to comment about the men who wrote offensive letters to the relatives of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan (Muslim activists who taunted dead soldiers' families lose appeal, February 27).

The right to free speech is fundamental to a democratic society - but that right does not extend to maliciously shouting "fire" in a crowded, darkened cinema, nor does it give one a right to slander or harass another person.

Peter Nixon, Abu Dhabi

Putting the case for feminism

I'm writing in response to Deborah Williams' opinion article After 50 years of feminism, is the 'mystique' still relevant? (February 24).

I often hear people say, "Oh, I'm not a feminist, but ..."

Why aren't you a feminist? Why is that a dirty word, a word to distance yourself from? What are you afraid of?

I agree that the "is this all?" question needs to be asked continuously for the sake of oppressed people - not just women. Feminism is a belief system rather than a character trait.

A Herndon, US

Indian fire tragedy was preventable

I was saddened by the tragedy in Kolkata (Fire claims 19 lives in poorly maintained market building, February 28).

Along with the deaths, many people were injured in the blaze, which was reportedly caused by faulty wiring.

Too many fires and other accidents these days are attributable to a lack of compliance with basic safety standards.

Nobody can compensate for the human loss after the event, but action can be taken to ensure such incidents do not occur.

Authorities everywhere should monitor premises and take stern action if legal requirements are not met.

K Ragavan, India

Bike rental service a great motivator

I was pleased to read Dubai's rent-a-bike service is first of its kind in the Middle East (February 14).

This provides a great incentive for people who have always wanted to take up cycling but haven't had a chance because they don't have the equipment.

I am very motivated to try this new service.

L McNabb, Dubai

Women's beach has precedents

Ladies' beach for Al Bateen (February 28) is very good news. However, it is not a first for Abu Dhabi.

When I came to the UAE in 1993, there was a women-only beach near the Emirates Palace. Later, there was another one at Raha Beach.

B Peetz, Abu Dhabi