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Six in 10 people in UAE overweight, with Pakistani residents topping the scales, new study finds

Research shows men are more likely to be overweight than women

A new study has found up to 62 per cent of people living in the UAE may be overweight. Research showed men were more likely to be overweight than women and that Pakistani residents were more overweight than other nationalities.

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The survey, carried out by the Oman Insurance Company, looked at more than 3,000 customers responding to an online health-risk assessment.

Significantly, 43 per cent of those found to be overweight still "felt good about themselves”, compared with 53 per cent considered to have a normal body mass index.

Dr Sapna Chandran, head of clinical governance at the insurance firm, said the findings were undoubtedly “unnerving” to health professionals.

“It was not expected that customers were OK with their weight,” she said. “They were happy with it and weren’t interested in joining the gym or in any weight-loss programme.

“When we told them that they needed to exercise to prevent medical complications later on in life, they responded by saying 'but we don’t have any problems now'."

Obesity within the UAE is seen as an increasingly common problem. Poor diet and a lack of exercise have seen rates of Type 2 diabetes soar across the country.

In 2016, diabetes was the seventh most common cause of premature death in the Emirates, rising from 11th in 2005.

And data from the World Obesity Federation suggests 15 per cent of people below the age of 20 in the UAE will be obese by 2025.

The World Health Organisation expects this to include nearly half a million school-age children.

Experts consider a person to be overweight if their BMI is between 25 and 30. Those with a BMI of 30 and above are deemed obese.

The research by the Oman Insurance Company also found different nationalities appeared to be more overweight than others.

Their study found 70 per cent of Pakistanis were overweight, compared with 66 per cent of Indians and 54 per cent of Filipinos.

Only 37 per cent of those found to be overweight said they had already taken steps to address the problem.

Dr Mohammed Al Hadad, head of bariatric and metabolic surgery at Healthpoint, an Abu Dhabi-based health-care provider, said worldwide obesity rates were increasing, but that the highest rates were in the GCC.

“The figures are very scary and require immediate action on all levels,” he said. “Obesity is a chronic disease and must be tackled during childhood.”