70% of Saudis are obese, says study

Updated 16 March 2014
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70% of Saudis are obese, says study

Obesity is fast turning out to be a major cause of concern for the Kingdom with seven out of 10 Saudis suffering from obesity, and 37 percent of Saudi women facing problems related to overweight. And to top it all, their problems are compounded because health insurance does not cover obesity surgery.
A recent study revealed that a whopping SR500 million per year was spent by people suffering from obesity in the Kingdom on treatment, especially diabetes which is prevalent among a large section of Saudis, including women. The disease had spread at an alarming rate of 30 percent in the past 10 years.
These startling figures were revealed at an international obesity conference in Alkhobar.
More than 450 participants from various health sectors are participating in the 3rd International Obesity Conference, with 12 speakers from Europe and America, five lecturers from the Gulf and 18 speakers from the Kingdom.
Dr. Ayed Al-Qahtani, consultant obesity surgeon, said the Ministry of Health was currently developing a national strategy to combat obesity, and was in the process of setting up a national center for obesity surgery at the King Fahd Medical City, with five similar centers across the Kingdom in the pipeline.
He also raised the issue of obesity surgery not being covered under health insurance while it is classified as a disease, and is covered under insurance all over the world.
The first day of the conference focused on the importance of having an exclusive section in all hospitals to deal with professional ethics related to obesity surgery, and to ensure that the patient understands his rights and the results of the surgery.
The conference recommended training of doctors since obesity is an independent area differing from general surgery.
Dr. Ahmad Al-Arfaj, regional executive director of Health Affairs in the Ministry of National Guard, said the conference also reviewed the latest methods for prevention and treatment of complications arising out of obesity surgery.
Dr. Abdul Majeed Al-Abdulkarim, vice president, postgraduate studies and academic affairs at King Saud University for Health Sciences, said obesity is one of the most widespread contemporary diseases in most societies.
Quoting from World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, he said there are about 1.6 billion adults world-wide who are obese. Nearly 60 percent of the population aged over 16 in the Kingdom was overweight, placing the country in the 29th position among 194 countries, he said.
Dima, a firm which handles events management, is launching a three-day exhibition-cum-forum titled “Your health is your responsibility” from April 26 in coordination with the King Khaled University and the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties. Its focus would be on obesity and related issues.


Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

Updated 19 April 2018
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Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

  • Cliffs in Tuwaiq were formed as a result of the movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift
  • Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site

Thrill seekers and fitness gurus all over the Kingdom will be pleased to know that their choices for weekend activities have increased. 

Several tour operators in Riyadh have started offering trips to the area known as the Edge of the World, making the location more accessible than ever.

With the country’s obesity rates on the rise and many citizens growing more concerned about their physical health and stress levels, people are seeking ways to maintain their fitness without having to restrict themselves to the monotony of a gym routine.

One such solution that has steadily increased in popularity over the past year is hiking, which many have embraced as being much more exciting and fulfilling than spending hours on the treadmill. And most popular of all for hiking and other fitness activities in a natural setting is the magnificent landmark of Jabal Fihrayn, more commonly known as the Edge of the World.

Described as a “window framed by rock,” the Edge of the World offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife and vegetation. The spot is well-known for being a favorite of visiting picnickers.

Hikers can choose from several trails of varying levels of difficulty, making their way to the top of the Tuwaiq escarpment to take in the magnificent views at the top of the trail, where the colossal cliff faces drop off to reveal the dizzying height from the valley below. In addition to the rich wildlife unique to the location, you can also find samples of fossilized coral and raw mineral deposits in certain areas of the valley.

The cliffs in the areas were formed as a result of the tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift situated 1,000 km to the west of Tuwaiq.

Due to the increasing popularity of the site, the authorities have built a hardtop that leads to the gates of the sites and arrangements are in place to protect the area and its natural treasures. 

Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site. The more intrepid explorer also has the option to go alone; though past visitors recommend that solo travelers take an all-terrain, 4x4 vehicle and extra precaution. Visitors can spend the day at the site and leave before 6 p.m. (when the gates are closed for the night) or stay behind for a night of camping to enjoy the sunset and the breathtaking celestial views of a star-studded night sky.

Nora Alfard, amateur hiking enthusiast and two-time visitor to the location, was quick to offer praise about her trip. 

“The trip out there was a bit tiring, but totally worth it,” she said. “The views are stunning, and the hiking itself is not that difficult. Most people should be able to make it to the top without too much trouble.” She said she was likely to go a third time, and encouraged others to do the same.

The Edge of the World is roughly 100km northwest of Riyadh, about 1.5 hours’ drive from the capital. Visitors should be prepared for at least 30 minutes of hiking, possibly more depending on your trail and your level of fitness and experience. Previous visitors recommend bringing water and snacks, and stress the importance of dressing appropriately — hiking shoes only!

Decoder

What is hiking?

Hiking means a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails in the countryside. Day hikers generally carry at least food, a map or a GPS navigation device.