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.


Emirates NBD opens branch in Alkhobar

Updated 20 September 2018
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Emirates NBD opens branch in Alkhobar

Emirates NBD, a banking group in the Middle East, has expanded its presence in the Kingdom with the opening of its first branch in Alkhobar in the Eastern Province. Emirates NBD now covers three key regions in Saudi Arabia with a presence in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar. 

As Saudi Arabia progresses plans for economic reform, in line with its Vision 2030, Emirates NBD’s presence builds on the growing economic and trade ties between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Following the establishment of the Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council, the UAE and Saudi Arabia recently announced The Strategy of Resolve, a joint vision for economic development through 44 joint strategic projects within a five-year time frame. 

UAE-based Emirates NBD is the first non-Saudi bank with a significant branch network across the Kingdom. The bank offers retail, private, business and wholesale banking across its network of three full-fledged branches in the Kingdom, in addition to corporate finance advisory, project and syndicated finance through Emirates NBD Capital KSA, the bank’s investment banking arm.

Emirates NBD also operates in Egypt, India, Singapore, and the UK with representative offices in China and Indonesia. 

“Our presence in Saudi is integral to Emirates NBD’s growth strategy as we continue to explore opportunities in the GCC region’s largest and most dynamic economy,” said Hesham Abdulla Al-Qassim, vice chairman and managing director of Emirates NBD. 

“Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a landmark economic transformation and we look forward to continuing to support Saudi individuals and businesses looking for a trusted banking partner.” 

Emirates NBD recently renewed its partnership with the Kingdom’s Kafalah Program, which aims to promote financing to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) within the country.

Loai Abduljawad, CEO of Emirates NBD KSA, said: “Emirates NBD’s expanded network strengthens our offering to individuals and corporates in Saudi Arabia looking to invest and trade across the MENA region and beyond. Our superior value proposition, built on the bank’s unique ‘high tech + high touch’ philosophy of offering customers a modern banking experience complemented by personalized advisory services, will enable us to strengthen customer acquisition in the Kingdom as we continue to support the country’s long-term growth and development goals, as outlined in Saudi Vision 2030.” 

Emirates NBD is a leading banking group in the region. As of June 30, 2018, its total assets were 477.5 billion dirhams, ($130 billion). The group has a significant retail banking franchise in the UAE and is a key participant in the global digital banking industry, with over 90 percent of all financial transactions and requests conducted outside of its branches. The bank was declared the “Most Innovative Financial Services Organization of the Year” at the 2017 BAI Global Innovation Awards.