Obesity is a staggering problem in the Middle East. 30 percent of the Middle East population is obese, revealed the World Health Organization. It is believed that the rate of obesity in UAE is double the world’ average and Kuwait’s rate is triple the global number. With such alarming numbers, the most obvious question that comes to the mind is –Why obesity is such a big problem in the Middle East?
Before we get into the answer to the question, we must know the causes that trigger obesity. When the energy balance of the body is disrupted, it leads to obesity. Many people believe that consuming excessive calories lead to obesity. This is only partly correct because a part of obesity is caused due to excessive calorie consumption, but it is not the complete picture. The main problem is that no one asks the right questions.
The imbalance of hormones causes obesity. Just like much of our longevity and wellness are controlled by hormones, the weight is also related to hormonal control. The three most prominent hormones that control weight are the stress hormone cortisol, the fat-storage hormone insulin, and the hunger hormone leptin. Stress (both internal and external) lead to inflammation, which causes hormonal imbalance. Thus, obesity can be caused by an imbalance of any of these three hormones not just excessive calorie consumption.
Poorly-managed lifestyle is the biggest contributor of obesity in the Middle East. According to a CNN report, the struggle of the Middle East under the weight of an obesity epidemic was described. The report informs about a man named Shahzad Ahmed, who is in his mid-40s, moved to Abu Dhabi a decade ago. Shahzad, who is diagnosed with extreme obesity, said that the lifestyle in this region is very much responsible for the rise of obesity. He said, “The problem was partly the sedentary lifestyle, and partly down to an abundance of food. We are not very active, generally there's air conditioned atmosphere, we're doing work on the computers ...watching TV. Slowly your calories out are less and your calories in are still the same because your culture is maintained around food. For every celebration, every meet-up with the family, the food is always on the table. So that's contributed a lot for me gaining weight at a very fast rate."
So, the lifestyle in the Middle East is disconnected from ideal eating, sleeping and living habits.
Lifestyle Factor-Diet- Food covers a significant part of the Middle East culture. Nutrient-deficient and calorie-dense foods are abundantly available and causing menace on the hormones of people. This is leading to the flare-up of metabolic diseases. At the same time, the options for healthy food are also limited in the Middle East, which influenced the eating habits further. The problem went overboard by adopting such ill-dietary habits during childhood, which makes way for deregulated metabolism for the whole life.
Lifestyle Factor-Sleep-For healthy living, sleep is the fundamental requirement. We have evolved on earth in tune with the rhythm of day and night, which the Sun dictates. This cycle is directly linked to all the chemical processes and hormones of the body. Any disruption in this cycle will cause metabolic problems. The ‘night-time’ lifestyle in this part of the world is rapidly rising and it is disrupting the sleep patterns making the body out of sync with the day-night rhythm. So, people are getting erratic sleep that is not restful. This is causing an immense negative effect on metabolism, which often leads to obesity.
Lifestyle Factor-Toxins and Harmful Radiations- The food chain in the Middle East is infiltrated by pesticide, plastic, metals and other toxins. In fact, a vast majority of water consumed in there comes from plastic containers and bottles. In addition, the beauty and grooming products including face creams and toothpaste also have toxins. Such regular exposure to toxins along with harmful radiations from smartphones, laptops, WiFi routers and other appliances disrupt the natural energy flow of the body, which further leads to inflammation and stress, which are big contributor towards obesity.
Diabetes- The people of the Middle East are being impacted by other diseases caused by overweight health issues. One such disease is diabetes. The rate of diabetes and obesity is huge in the Middle East, especially in the Gulf region like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
A report of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) states that 37 million people are affected by diabetes in the Middle East and North Africa, which roughly makes around 9.7 percent of the population. The most alarming fact is that 50 percent of cases in this region are not diagnosed. Thus, the number of diabetes can get almost double in the next two decades, predicts IDF.
High Blood Pressure, Stroke and Heart Disease- Obesity can lead to high blood pressure that increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Obesity causes high blood pressure because when the weight is more, one needs more blood to supply nutrients and oxygen to the body. With increased weight, more pressure is generated by moving the blood around the body, which causes high blood pressure or hypertension.
Osteoarthritis- Obesity and Osteoarthritis are part of a cruel cycle. When the body weighs extra, it puts more stress on the joints that can gradually trigger the condition of osteoarthritis. To lose weight, physical activity is a key contributor. When arthritis combines with joint pain, it becomes very difficult to work out for losing those extra pounds.
Gallstones- In the obese persons, the prevalence of gallstones can increase significantly. It is not known what exactly causes gallstones, but excessive weight can increase the risk of developing the condition. The level of cholesterol increases in the bile of the overweight people and it is known that gallstones are formed with the cholesterol deposits. Obesity makes way for more cholesterol in the bile, which can lead to gallstones.
Breathing Problems- Breathing difficulties or shortness of breath can cause when the blood does not get enough supply of oxygen. Many obese people feel like not getting enough air while breathing and may grasp for breath. One of the common breathing problems that many obese patients suffer from is sleep apnea. This condition can cause one to stop breathing for at least ten seconds at a time, and it can happen for even hundreds of times every night. Being overweight and carrying extra weight in abdomen particularly, can give rise to sleep apnea.
Gout- The body of an obese or overweight person produces more insulin. When the body circulates higher insulin level, it inhibits the process of uric acid elimination by the kidneys. Thus, the level of uric acid increases in the blood, which leads to gout attacks.
So, it is evident that the problem of obesity is huge in the Middle East and something needs to be done from the basic level to bring changes in eating habits and lifestyle to get rid of the menace. Now, the most important factor that cannot be overlooked here is that huge number of people in this part of the world is suffering from obesity and other diseases triggered by the condition. For them, it is very important to get the right treatment at the right place at the right price.
They can go to several European and Asian countries where they will get plenty of exciting travel destinations apart from high quality medical care, trained professionals using latest technology, widespread network of best medical experts and patient-friendly clinics.
Some of the top European destinations where you can get obesity surgery and treatments are Germany, Turkey, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, and Hungary. The cost of obesity bariatric surgery in Europe can start from $3500 and reach up to $30000 depending upon the type of treatment and other facilities provided. The average price of bariatric obesity treatment in Europe is $13000.
Countries like India, Thailand, China and Philippines have advanced facilities for obesity treatment. Here the cheapest price of bariatric treatment starts from approximately $3000 and it can go as high as $26000. So, the average price is around $11000.
Middle East is an expensive region and getting high-end obesity treatments like bariatric surgery can cost like a bomb. Does that mean the patients continue to suffer? No. They can go to other countries where the standard of the treatment is high but the cost is less. One can find effective obesity treatments in various European and Asian countries and get the procedure done safely under the supervision of expert doctors and technologically advanced clinics with the attractive packages. However, you have to remember that you cannot go back to poor lifestyle and eating habits after the treatment procedure. It is very important to ensure you eat right food, optimize body’s day-night cycle, control emotional stress and do right exercising. Enjoy a healthy life!