People making use of the new Jumeirah Corniche Jogging Track. Doctors have welcomed the 30-day challenge saying for any habit to change, it requires an intervention of minimum 20 days. Image Credit: Atiq-ur-Rehman/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Endocrinologists, nutritionists and doctors have welcomed the 30-day Fitness Challenge that will commence on October 20.

The challenge was announced by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council.

Health specialists feel this inclusive community initiative will help tackle the twin challenges of diabetes and obesity that Dubai is facing and also be a great factor towards controlling health deterioration that has been triggered by a host of other non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular disease.

According to a survey in 2016 by Dubai Health Authority and Dubai Statistics Centre where over 3,298 families consisting of over 13,000 individuals that included both Emirati and expatriate families were interviewed, an alarming trend of non-communicable diseases was detected.

The study indicated that nearly 36 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women were overweight, 11.9 per cent were morbidly obese and nearly 36.1 per cent had borderline obesity. About 19.6 per cent of Emirati men and 18.5 per cent of Emirati women suffered from hypertension.

Disease burden

A recent Global Disease Burden study conducted by the Washington University indicated that nearly 66 per cent of men and 60 per cent of women across all emirates including Dubai were obese.

The figure for diabetes is alarming too and these are available for the entire UAE.

The International Diabetes Federation has indicated that nearly 19.3 per cent of the population is diabetic and nearly 40 per cent of pre-diabetic and a large number undiagnosed.

As Dubai Health Authority completes the three-phased Electronic Medical Records System, the public will be privy to a more comprehensive record of their health parameters.

Dr Hamed Farooqui, consultant endocrinologist and director of the Dubai Diabetes Centre, lauded the 30-day fitness challenge announced by the Crown Prince.

“I think it is a brilliant initiative. We are in the midst of a diabetes and obesity epidemic. Both of these conditions are interlinked as those who are diabetic usually begin with insulin resistance and obesity.

"The key issue in managing these two diseases is changing one’s lifestyle and although it might sound easy to say all it needs is a balanced diet and exercise, any fundamental change to lifestyle is an uphill task that requires tremendous willpower and support from community.

"This initiative is providing psychological, social and even financial support (by providing free fitness workouts). It is like setting a huge ball rolling and once the health initiative is flagged off, it will gather momentum. People may be able to work wonders with their health with such tremendous support from government.”

Dr Wafa Ayesh, director of Clinical Nutrition at DHA, welcomed the challenge. “For any habit or mindset to change, it requires an intervention of minimum 20 days." 

"Even taste buds take time to adjust to a new diet," Dr Ayesh added. "So this challenge is giving the people of Dubai a unique opportunity to collectively participate in a health initiative with all support from the government. It can help reset people’s health resolutions and put them on a fast track to adopting a balanced and healthy lifestyle that will be a key to combating all non-communicable diseases.”