Half of women in UAE are ‘clinically obese’
ABU DHABI // Half of women in the UAE are clinically obese, which means they are among the most overweight in the world.
According to the World Health Organisation’s World Health Statistics 2015 report, more of the UAE’s female residents are overweight than men, with 45.1 per cent of females over the age of 18 being classified as obese – having a body mass index of 30 or above – compared to 33.8 per cent of men.
“These are extremely worrying statistics,” said Dr Lalu Chacko, medical director of LLH Hospital – Abu Dhabi. “When you look around you, it is obvious that there are many obese people here. It has become a way of life.”
The UAE has the seventh-highest proportion of obese women in the world, following only Kuwait (45.9 per cent), Tuvalu (46.4 per cent), Kiribati (48.5 per cent), Marshall Islands (48.98 per cent), the South Pacific island country of Niue (49 per cent) and Qatar (49.7 per cent).
Unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles have led to more women in the UAE putting on weight, said Dr Chacko.
There are many complications that obese women face, in addition to the most common health risks of heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, he said.
“So many women who come to have normal deliveries and caesareans are at increased risk as they are obese,” he said. “Many women cannot become mothers because they are obese.
“It is also likely that their children will eat more and play less.”
Mirey Karavetian, assistant professor of nutrition at Zayed University in Dubai, said women – especially Emiratis – are more obese than their male counterparts because men tend to have a more active lifestyle.
“There are women-only gyms but not many know about these or are encouraged to go,” she said. “They end up having extremely sedentary lives, especially housewives, where their only activity is eating at home or at the malls.”
Emirati women, in particular, tend to start a family earlier and then struggle to balance looking after a child with being active and healthy, she said.
“Once they are 18 or 19 , women aim to get married and when they are married, they are swamped between babies and the family,” she said. “Also, there is a misconception that when you are pregnant, you should eat for two.
“This is not true, but many follow this. If in the first pregnancy, the woman gains weight and has another baby soon after, it becomes hard to lose weight.”
Updated: May 13, 2015 04:00 AM