A ‘weighty’ bomb ticking for 50% of women

Updated 15 March 2014
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A ‘weighty’ bomb ticking for 50% of women

Around half of the Saudi women and a third of men do not engage in any form of physical activity, a Health Ministry survey has revealed.
Less than a third of both men and women engage in light physical activity, and there is a more than 72 percent rate of obesity among Saudis over 40 and an 18-percent obesity rate in children, show survey results.
Lack of awareness is the main reason behind obesity in Saudi Arabia, according to Dr. Anwar Masoud, a dietician at a private hospital in Jeddah.
“Many Saudis don’t understand how dangerous it is to be overweight. They don’t even undergo a checkup unless they feel tired or pain,” he said. “We have launched many campaigns, but Saudis want the easy way out. Many undergo bypass surgery and liposuction to look slimmer and feel lighter,” he said.
Expensive gyms and street harassment keep women away from exercise. “I have tried joining different private gyms, but prices are beyond my budget. They never see this as an opportunity to help people lose weight. It is always a business opportunity to make money out of desperate people,” said Lamia Aziz, a student who weighs over 100 kg. “I am too ashamed of leaving the house or even go for a run because I am routinely bullied about my looks,” she said.
Aziz says it is impossible for her to do anything about it because she can’t afford joining a diet program.
“People think I gave up and some of them think it is easy to lose weight, whereas in reality, shedding a few kilos could take up to a month,” she said. Masoud says private and public hospitals should launch a social responsibility program to help those who find it difficult to lose weight. “The Ministry of Education should also launch an awareness program to help students understand the impact of gaining weight.”
Stay-at-home mother Maha Mohammed expressed surprise at how such an issue is being highlighted after lengthy debates at the Shoura Council about whether to allow sports at school for women. “If we raised our women to love sports and educate them about the importance of engaging in physical activity, they would make the effort to practice sports on a daily basis,” she said.
“Women are not seeing exercise as an essential factor because they were forbidden from playing sports at school, where they spend most of their time. School is an institution that teaches kids not only subjects, but attitude and lifestyle, so they shouldn’t blame our women for being fat and they should fix the problem at the root,” she said.


Scientists reveal “ideal diet” for peoples’ and planet’s health

Updated 17 January 2019
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Scientists reveal “ideal diet” for peoples’ and planet’s health

  • If the world followed the “Planetary Health” diet, more than 11 million premature deaths could be prevented each year
  • Many life-threatening chronic diseases are linked to poor diets, including obesity, diabetes, malnutrition and several types of cancer

LONDON: Scientists have unveiled what they say is an ideal diet for the health of the planet and its populations — including a doubling of consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes, and a halving of meat and sugar intake.
If the world followed the “Planetary Health” diet, the researchers said, more than 11 million premature deaths could be prevented each year, while greenhouse gas emissions would be cut and more land, water, and biodiversity would be preserved.
“The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong,” said Tim Lang, a professor at Britain’s University of London who co-led the research.
Feeding a growing population of 10 billion people by 2050 with a healthy, sustainable diet will be impossible without transforming eating habits, improving food production and reducing food waste, he said. “We need a significant overhaul, changing the global food system on a scale not seen before.”
Many life-threatening chronic diseases are linked to poor diets, including obesity, diabetes, malnutrition and several types of cancer. The researchers said unhealthy diets currently cause more death and disease worldwide than unsafe sex, alcohol, drug and tobacco use combined.
The proposed planetary diet is the result of a three-year project commissioned by The Lancet health journal and involving 37 specialists from 16 countries.
It says global average consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar should be cut by 50 percent, while consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes should double.
For individual regions, this could mean even more dramatic changes: People in North America, for example, eat almost 6.5 times the recommended amount of red meat, while people in South Asia eat only half the amount suggested by the planetary diet.
Meeting the targets for starchy vegetables such as potatoes and cassava would need big changes in sub-Saharan Africa, where people on average eat 7.5 times the suggested amount.
Presenting the diet at a briefing on Wednesday, the researchers said they acknowledged it was very ambitious to hope to get everyone in the world to adopt it, not least because there is vast global inequality of access to food.
“More than 800 million people have insufficient food, while many more consume an unhealthy diet that contributes to premature death and disease,” said Walter Willett of Harvard University in the United States.
“If we can’t quite make it, it’s better to try and get as close as we can,” he said.