Posted on November 04, 2012

One of the most highly regarded authorities on public health issues in Qatar has endorsed a series of lifestyle tips that can help individuals avoid chronic non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and hypertension.

Speaking as part of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar’s nationwide awareness campaign, ‘Sahtak Awalan: Your Health First’, Dr. Ravinder Mamtani (thumb), the college’s associate dean for global and public health, said: “What we have learned from studies of other high income, developed countries such as those in Europe and North America, unhealthy life style choices lead to serious illnesses as people age. I’m referring to habits like smoking, lack of physical activity, stress and making poor dietary choices.” Similar trends are also being observed in middle income nations.

Your Health First is a five-year multi-stage campaign run by WCMC-Q in association with the Supreme Council of Health and in strategic partnership with Supreme Education council, Qatar Petroleum, Occidental Petroleum of Qatar Ltd. (Oxy Qatar), ExxonMobil and Vodafone Qatar. The initiative aims to educate both the Qatari and expatriate communities so that they can make informed, healthy lifestyle choices.

Dr. Mamtani said that poor lifestyle choices can lead to “widely prevalent non-communicable diseases, namely type-2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease.” and that these conditions are becoming more common in Qatar and other parts of the Gulf that have experienced rapid economic growth.

Diabetes, if not controlled, can cause serious complications  explained Dr. Mamtani, and include blindness, damage to the kidneys, neuropathy (damage to the peripheral nerves) and poor circulation that can lead to amputation of the extremities. However, Dr. Mamtani warned that the headline-grabbing prevalence of type-2 diabetes should not distract individuals from other serious non-communicable disease. He added: “Yes, diabetes is a big problem, but so are hypertension and heart disease. If you are overweight or obese, you are at greater risk of suffering from these conditions and the personal choices we make play an important role.

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“Making simple changes to your lifestyle can have very positive effects, dramatically reducing the likelihood of developing these conditions.”

The Qatar STEPS survey of chronic disease risk factors in the country, carried out by the Supreme Council of Health between March and May 2012, revealed a pattern of unhealthy lifestyle choices among Qataris. Drawing data from 2,496 adults, the survey found that 45.9 percent of respondents exhibited low levels of physical activity, while 71.3 percent were not engaging in vigorous forms of activity.

A total of 91.1 percent of respondents did not eat the recommended five portions of fruit and/or vegetables each day and 70.1 percent were overweight, while 41.4 percent were obese.  NB: Stats do not make it clear if 41.4 percent of total population are obese, or if 41.4 percent of the 70.1 percent of overweight people are obese. Dr. Mamtani to clarify- (.)

Dr. Mamtani added: “Improving the health of the nation is part of the vision and the mission of the leadership of the State of Qatar.  The National Health Strategy 2011-2016  provides a  balanced, all –embracing work plan  with specific goals and objectives that will provide a world- class, integrated, comprehensive patient-centered  health care system. WCMC- Q is honored to  take part and work hard together to  greatly improve the health of individuals and the country as a whole.”

Dr. Sohaila Cheema, manager of the global and public health division, outlined the aims of the Your Health First campaign.

She said: “We are taking a holistic approach to preventing people from acquiring these conditions. This involves giving people accurate information to encourage behavior modification and help people make healthier lifestyle choices. We are living in an obesogenic environment with junk food easily available all around us. That means that our individual choices play a very important role in our health and people need to be aware of that.”

The good news is that being obese or overweight can be prevented and reversed by altering your lifestyle. Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar recommends the following health tips in order to reduce the risk of acquiring chronic non-communicable diseases.