ABU DHABI // Thousands of people turned out to support Walk 2014, which aims to promote a healthy lifestyle.
The eighth annual event drew more than 21,000 people in white walkathon T-shirts and bags, who marched a combined 150 million steps along a 5.5km route at Yas Marina Circuit to support diabetes awareness.
“It’s very important to stay fit and active,” said Noha Abdou, 42, an Egyptian living in Abu Dhabi. “My husband and I are both engineers and we are always busy at work, and this is a nice time to be with family and friends.”
Husband Ahmed Al Attar, 45, 15-year-old son Mohammed, and in-laws Samir, 70, and Esmat, 69, joined Mrs Abdou on the walk.
“My father-in-law Samir has been fighting diabetes for the past 25 years,” she said. “So this walk is something meaningful, sending a message across the community that it pays to have a healthy lifestyle.”
Walk 2014 is the longest-running public health awareness event in the UAE and is organised by Imperial College London Diabetes Centre and supported by health insurer Daman, under the patronage of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, widow of the founding President, Sheikh Zayed.
“We have problems with diabetes, obesity and hypertension,” said Amal Negm, 45, a paediatrician from Egypt who has lived in Abu Dhabi for 11 years. “We need to eat well, live well and stay active and fit.”
She took part in the event with her three daughters, Sara, 4, Sama, 9 and 15-year-old Ganna.
“Diabetes is slowly killing people all over the world,” said Ms Negm. “We are here to raise awareness of the disease and promote healthy eating and regular exercise.”
The UAE is 15th in the world in terms of diabetes prevalence, with nearly 19 per cent of the population living with the condition, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
This year, health professionals started recording the body mass index of participants, to track levels of activity and health in the community.
The results will be published and it is hoped the data will provide a vital insight into the battle against diabetes in the UAE.
Also new this year was Health X, a community-orientated health and well-being forum aimed at sharing ideas between health professionals.
Updated: November 7, 2014 04:00 AM