More than half of Oman’s population obese: Al Saidi

Oman Sunday 07/March/2021 16:56 PM
More than half of Oman’s population obese: Al Saidi

Muscat: Oman is facing a spike in obesity cases, as more than half of the Omani population is now overweight or obese with 30 percent of them having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 30, said Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Al Saidi, Minister of Health on. He said that these figures showed a rise in the prevalence of obesity in Oman since the last survey in 2008, especially among women.

He pointed out that there is an increasing recognition worldwide that overweight and obesity are not only problems of individuals but also society-wide problem of population.

He added, “The causes of obesity are complex but one of the key drivers is in the way we eat and how much we move, which is changing dramatically. As a result of changes in our environment, unhealthy processed food and the technology that promote sedentary lifestyles has become more readily available. Unfortunately, convenience has led us to adopt an unhealthy lifestyle, which in turn has led to obesity.

Obesity epidemic

“Even though there is no simple or single solution to the obesity epidemic, if we are to fight this escalating crisis in our societies, a coordinated response that goes beyond the health sector is crucial. Only through the engagement in multi-sector dialogues and relentless commitment to work together on reducing the burden of obesity can we promote health and prevent disease.

“The importance of population-based changes in the socio-environmental variables that influence energy intake and expenditure cannot be stressed enough. Marketing restrictions, dietary guidelines, policies that focus on improving environments like schools & workplaces are only but some of the many interventions that should stop the drastic spreading of obesity,” Dr. Ahmed explained.

Coinciding with the celebrations of World Obesity Day, Oman obesity briefing book titled “Obesity in Oman, a major public health challenge” was inaugurated at the Ministry of Health headquarters on Sunday.

The launch took place through a virtual event held under the patronage of the Minister of Health.

This important document has been developed as a collaboration between the National Diabetes and Endocrine Centre (NDEC), the Department of Non-Communicable Disease, the Department of Nutrition, the Oman Diabetes Association and Novo Nordisk, a Danish multinational pharmaceutical company.

Dr. Noor Al Busaidi, Director of National Diabetes and Endocrine Centre, gave an in-depth overview of the Oman obesity briefing book and commented, “This briefing book seeks to inform policymakers, healthcare professionals and the general public of the serious and widespread health challenge of obesity in Oman by highlighting its impact on society and individuals. The book also aims to emphasise opportunities for the prevention and management of obesity as a disease as well as showcasing initiatives that have been introduced in Oman to address this issue.” 

It is worth to mention that in 2019, Oman hosted the World Obesity Regional Conference on Women and Child First, and the Gulf Obesity Surgical Society’s sixth annual obesity conference.

These events signal that the health community in Oman is committed to addressing the issue of obesity for vulnerable groups and ensuring treatment for people with severe obesity.

However, until obesity is recognised as a serious chronic disease, treatment options are likely to remain limited, despite the substantial impact that obesity can have on the quality of life for individuals and the capacity of healthcare systems. 

 The virtual event saw the participation of some MOH officials, Ole Emil Moesby, Ambassador of Denmark to Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Yemen, and Akin Aksekili, Vice President at Novo Nordisk Gulf Cluster.