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.


Careem honors outstanding captains in Riyadh

Updated 12 December 2018
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Careem honors outstanding captains in Riyadh

Careem held the first edition of its Captain’s Excellence Award Ceremony in Riyadh on Saturday. The event, which will be held annually, was the first-of-its-kind in the region and welcomed over 300 top-performing “captains” (Careem drivers) across the Kingdom. 

The captains were awarded based on different criteria such as: Captains with the highest number of trips, highest (customer-given) ratings and longest serving captains. Rewards were also handed out to captain ambassadors, i.e. those with the highest number of referrals and captains that were given a special shoutout on social media by customers for their dedication to their service. Several rewards were handed out along with the grand prize, a brand new car. 

Abdulla Elyas, chief people officer and co-founder of Careem, opened the event with an ode to the captains in attendance, thanking them for their service and commitment in driving impact through meaningful initiatives across the Kingdom. Some of these initiatives included the vaccination campaign in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, which helped more than 100,000 men, women and children across 17 cities get vaccinated in their own homes. Careem also collaborated with Bupa Arabia during Ramadan this year to donate clothes from customers to people in need, where over 180,000 donations were collected. 

Elyas also announced Careem’s partnership with Alwaleed Philanthropies (AP) in delivering the first installment of cars for the empowerment of people with special needs. The foundation, chaired by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, will provide a number of cars over the course of seven years to men and women of the Society for Physically Disabled Adults (Harakia) after being trained.

“Our captains are the lifeblood of our business and we wanted to celebrate these men and women for helping us achieve our mission of simplifying and improving the lives of people in the Kingdom,” Elyas said. 

“We are proud to have 395,000 ‘captainahs’ (female drivers) and captains registered with us to date in Saudi Arabia, providing over 122 million rides. This ceremony is our small way to thank them for their service and reward them for the hard work they put in every day so that people have a safe way to get around. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today” 

Muaaed Al-Saeed, a representative from the Public Transport Authority (PTA), said: “We are excited to have you all; you have overcome each obstacle you were faced with in a short span of time and for that we are extremely proud.” 

He added: “On this occasion, I convey the regards of PTA President Dr. Rumaih Al-Rumaih. The participation of myself and Majed Al-Zahrani, PTA general manager, is proof of our support to all the captains.”