Fighting a global pandemic: It’s time to think differently about obesity

Updated 02 February 2018
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Fighting a global pandemic: It’s time to think differently about obesity

Despite global efforts to stem the obesity epidemic, no country has succeeded in decreasing obesity in the last 33 years. Global obesity has more than doubled since 1980, with almost 30 percent of the population overweight or obese.
In the Middle East, obesity rates among adults are exceptionally high at more than 37 percent in Kuwait and more than 35 percent in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, according to the latest WHO figures.
Experts said that one problem is that most campaigns to combat the disease have overly simplified obesity by focusing on healthy eating and exercise, when the reality is that obesity is not a lifestyle choice, but a chronic disease with complex origins.
Weight bias is society’s last acceptable form of discrimination and is largely driven by limited understanding of obesity, said Dr. Nadia Ahmad, founding director of the Obesity Medicine Institute in Dubai and senior adviser for obesity solutions at Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Middle East.
Environmental, social, dietary factors and aspects relating to common medications, stress and sleep can all play a role so there is no “one size fits all” approach to combatting obesity, she added, speaking during a webinar organized by Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices (JJMD) to explore the science and societal aspects that underpin obesity.
A growing body of research supports the concept of “set point,” which posits that regardless of what you would like your weight to be, your brain has its own sense of how much body fat you should retain and regulates energy intake and expenditure to maintain levels within a “set point” range.
Measures to introduce healthier food options at schools, to tax sugary drinks and to encourage people to exercise are all important steps toward promoting a healthy lifestyle, but some individuals still struggle to lose weight based on lifestyle modification alone and may require pharmacotherapy and metabolic surgery.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is at the epicenter of an obesity and diabetes crisis, according to Dr. Karl Miller, chief medical officer at JJMD Middle East and vice president of the Obesity Academy Austria. There are 318,000 deaths caused by diabetes each year in the region alone.
The rising social and economic burden of obesity requires a new approach to tackling this chronic disease. The current patient pathway to surgical intervention can take as long as eight years, according to Dr. Ahmad.
She said metabolic surgery is associated with higher diabetes remission rates, lowered mortality risk, fewer complications, higher weight loss and improved quality of life in the short and long term.


ADIB becomes first bank to join UAEIIC

Updated 23 June 2018
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ADIB becomes first bank to join UAEIIC

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), a leading financial institution, has joined the UAE International Investors Council (UAEIIC), making it the first bank in the UAE to become a member in the council. This comes following an approval from the board of directors of the UAEIIC, headed by Sultan bin Saeed Al-Mansoori, UAE minister of economy.

Through this membership, ADIB will join government decision-makers, locally and internationally, with the support of the UAE’s minster of economy, to help remove obstacles, strengthen foreign investment relations and support sustainable economic development.

Khamis Buharoon, vice chairman and acting CEO at ADIB, said: “We are proud to be the first bank to join the UAE’s Investors Council. We are also committed to the development of Emirati investments, which are critical to economic diversification and the UAE’s global economic competitiveness. Important measures have already been taken to secure support and protection and to overcome any challenges faced by Emirati investors abroad, and we look forward to playing an instrumental role in building on these efforts.”

He added: “The establishment of the UAE International Investors Council forms part of broader efforts to advance economic diversification policies that complement the expansion and growth of the UAE’s private sector as well as create a favorable environment that supports national companies investing abroad. The council provides a vital link between investors interested in promising opportunities available in countries with close ties to the UAE and governmental and semi-governmental entities to streamline the investment process. It also serves as a pillar for ensuring the protection of UAE capital abroad through advice, guidance, and logistic support.”

Jamal Saif Al-Jarwan, secretary-general of the Emirates Council for overseas investors, said: “We have the honor to join Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank as an active member of the council, which contributes to enhancing the role of the council’s working environment to support the state’s economic development and to keep pace with developments in the economic, investment and banking sectors in general, since the measure of success depended not only on financial results but also on how it dealt with the needs changing markets, innovative and sophisticated solutions that keep pace with rapid global changes and shifts in those sectors.”

He added: “Emirati investment abroad plays a vital role in more than 70 countries in the world and has a great impact on the soft and reputed power of our young state in the world, which is a great achievement and a strong demonstration of the path of investment of the Emirati investors in the right direction.”