RIYADH: A new national campaign aims to help residents of Saudi Arabia to adopt healthier lifestyles and shed 300 tons of excess weight by the end of the year.
Saudi retail pharmacy chain Nahdi Medical Company began its weight loss initiative last week with a launch event at Riyadh’s Granada Mall.
The competitive “Wazen Hayatak” (Balance Your Life) program aims to create an environment that encourages the adoption of a more healthy, active and balanced lifestyle, to help transform Saudi society in line with the aims of Vision 2030.
Obesity is a major health concern in the Kingdom, said Hani Ismail, Nahdi’s chief marketing officer.
“Saudi Arabia is currently No. 29 on the list of countries with the most overweight citizens, with 59.4 percent of Saudis overweight,” he said. “The current costs of both prevention and cure of excess weight stand at SR19 billion ($5.06 billion), according to the most recent report, from 2018.”
If the prospect of carrying around less weight and enjoying the benefits of a healthier lifestyle are not incentive enough to take part in the campaign, Nahdi is also offering a prize of SR100,000 at each of three weigh-ins during the campaign to the person who has lost the most weight, proportionally, plus a further SR100,000 to the person who loses the most weight overall.
Everyone who attends a weigh-in will also be eligible for free consultations about diet and weight loss plans, and even if they do not lose any weight they can enter prize draws for smaller gifts and monetary prizes.
Sarah Turkistani, senior health and community service manager at Nahdi, told the audience at the launch that the campaign was close to her heart on a personal level.
“My whole life changed when we started the Wazen Hayatak program,” she said. “We started it as an in-house campaign for employees of Nahdi and were pleasantly surprised when we reached a total weight loss of 500 kilograms.
“We did it a second time in Jeddah, in a small group of 30 pharmacies, and in just three months, our participants lost a total of 3,000 kg. We decided then that we had to make it bigger.”
Certified fitness trainers then guided the crowd through a variety of basic exercises and invited onlookers to get active by taking part in some fun activities. A number of weighing stations were available for people to get accurate measurements of their weight, body fat percentage and muscle mass index.
During Nahdi’s first public Wazen Hayatak program in Jeddah, which ended in January 2016, 2,772 participants lost a total of 3.7 tons.
The public face of the campaign is Saudi entrepreneur and social-media star Adwa Al-Dakheel, who took part in a public weigh-in.
“This initiative is more than just a campaign; this is a lifestyle,” she said.
Nahdi Medical Company is a leading chain of Saudi retail pharmacies, with a network of stores in 125 cities and villages across the Kingdom.