Muscat: Obesity is no longer a condition that affects older people, although the likelihood does increase with age. A rising number of young people in the country are being diagnosed with obesity.
“It has been noted that abdominal obesity is increasing in the Sultanate, especially among young Omani men,” Dr. Jumana Saleh, associate professor at the Department of Biochemistry at Sultan Qaboos University, said. “This abdominal obesity will turn out to be a great risk and cause cardiovascular issues,” she added.
Saleh, who is researching obesity in Oman, said the reason young men and women were suffering from abdominal obesity was an unhealthy and laid-back attitude towards eating and exercise.
“Although subcutaneous fat poses cosmetic concerns, visceral fat is linked with far more dangerous health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, gallstones, abnormal cholesterol, and other chronic illnesses at an early age,” she said.
According to experts, consuming more than required and moving too little are the main culprits. Social media and being hooked onto our mobile phones don’t help either.
“I used to weigh 65-75 kg during my teen years, whereas ideally I should have been between 45 and 55 kg, as per my height and bone structure. I blame it on age and negligence. The world is moving with the advancement in technology, while pushing humans to become slaves,” a 31-year-old Omani entrepreneur said.
The young entrepreneur developed cholesterol and type 2 diabetes at the age of 23, after being diagnosed as clinically obese.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know there was a medical condition called obesity and due to my lack of knowledge, I suffered a great deal, until today. I got in touch with a personal trainer at a gym, who helped me lose weight through extensive workouts and a strict diet,” the entrepreneur added.
“I hated every bit of it and wasn’t seeing any changes. Therefore, I quit after 2.5 months. Now, I am planning to go through gastric banding,” he said. Gastric band technique effectively shrinks the stomach, so people cannot eat as much.
“It is a well-known fact that if you are overweight or obese, you are at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, particularly if you have excess weight around your abdomen,” Dr Basheer, senior internist and diabetologist at Badr Al Samaa Hospital, explained.
For type 2 diabetes, having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater is a major risk factor.
“In fact, obesity is believed to account for 80-85 per cent of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Recent research suggests that obese people are up to 80 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with a BMI of less than 22,” Dr Basheer said.
Yusuke Yachi, an instructor at a private fitness centre in Muscat, said: “Majority of my clients are young Omani men and women struggling with excessive fat. What my clients and other people looking to lose weight don’t understand is that gym instructors can only push them to work hard and structure a diet plan according to their bodies. The willpower and effort, however, have to come from their end.”
Yachi seemed pretty disappointed when queried about the determination and dedication he saw in people at the gym. “It’s frustrating to see that people, including my clients, spend more time with their phones than on training. The trend of taking selfies and updating movements has damaged the mindset of the young ones,” he said.
“Medication and diets can help overcome the problem. But, you can’t treat obesity with a short-term fix. It has to be a lifelong commitment and dedication to a healthy lifestyle, including a proper diet, increased physical activity, and regular exercise,” Saleh concluded.