More than 60 per cent of insured people in Oman overweight
November 7, 2018 | 10:18 PM
by Times News Service
A lack of physical activity, poor diet and bad lifestyle choices are to blame for 62 per cent of the insured population being overweight, according to a study compiled by the Oman Insurance Company (OIC). -Shutterstock

Muscat: More than 60 per cent of people insured in Oman are overweight, new research has shown.

A lack of physical activity, poor diet and bad lifestyle choices are to blame for 62 per cent of the insured population being overweight, according to a study compiled by the Oman Insurance Company (OIC).

The study, which was assembled by a team at OIC, analysed more than 3,200 responses as part of their free online risk assessment, which used a person’s body mass index (BMI) as the indicator.

Results showed that 66 per cent of Indians and 70 per cent of Pakistanis were found to be overweight, as well as 54 per cent of Filipinos.

Within the male population, 67 per cent were overweight compared to 59 per cent overweight females.

The link between physical activity and weight was reflected through this analysis.

While 19 per cent of the people in the healthy weight group said they don’t exercise even for 2.5 hours a week, the number rose to 27 per cent for the overweight population.

“Knowing that a person is overweight is the first step to take charge of his/her health condition,” said Dr Yasser Khalifa, head of medical insurance at OIC.

“Unfortunately, a majority of the overweight population is still unaware of its health condition as the survey revealed that only 20 per cent of overweight respondents have been diagnosed for this condition by doctors. Being overweight is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as strokes, diabetes and some cancers of the kidney and breast, among others. Apart from the lack of physical activity, common causes of obesity include a poor diet and overall lifestyle choices.”

However, while being overweight and/or obese may be an alarming health condition, 43 per cent of the overweight population said they felt good about themselves compared to 52 per cent of healthy people.

Also, 62 per cent of overweight people said that they are satisfied with their lives compared to 72 per cent of the healthy population, thereby showing a direct correlation between being overweight and self-image.

However, when asked if they were willing to change, 37 per cent of overweight people said that they had already taken charge of their weight, thereby indicating that they wanted to become healthier.

Programmes encouraging people to become healthier are already underway. The United Nations Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) listed six key points to prevent the tendency of children becoming unhealthy from a young age.

These include steps such as promoting the intake of healthy foods, promoting physical activity, proper preconception and pregnancy care, health, nutrition and physical activity for school children and proper weight management.

“Overweight and obesity impact children’s quality of life, as they face a wide range of barriers, including physical, psychological and health consequences,” said Dr Sania Nishtar, co-chair of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.

“We know that obesity can impact educational attainment too and this, combined with the likelihood that they will remain obese into adulthood, poses major health and economic consequences for them, their families and society as a whole."

Sir Peter Gluckman, another commission co-chair, added, “Increased political commitment is needed to tackle the global challenge of childhood overweight and obesity. WHO needs to work with governments to implement a wide range of measures that address the environmental causes of obesity, and help give children the healthy start to a life they deserve."

Khezia Resma, a nutritionist and dietician at Burjeel Hospital in Oman, asked people to cut down on junk food, because being overweight could lead to other concerning health risks.

“The first problem of weight is that it can lead to obesity,” she said.

“Hypertension and dyslipidemia may be developed as well due to high sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat content. Elevated blood sugar levels may also cause diabetes mellitus type II for those who prefer sweets. Some may also develop kidney stones and urinary tract infections with the excessive consumption of chips, because they are high in sodium, and those who drink sodas could become addicted to them as well."

“Most junk foods are carbohydrate-rich, especially chips made from potatoes, starch, corn or flour,” added Resma. “In excessive amounts, these promote weight gain, considering how they are cooked, which mostly involves deep frying. Very rarely do junk foods contain vitamins and minerals. If so, they are in negligible amounts as compared to the adverse consequences one can suffer from eating these foods.”

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