Abu Dhabi: Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are emerging as a major health problem in the UAE due to poor diet, said nutrition specialists in a congress held yesterday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

According to research conducted by Hussain Qazaq, Nutrition Studies and Research Programmes Health Authority (HAAD), the proportion of deaths from cardiovascular diseases range from 25 to 45 per cent amongst Middle Eastern Countries with an increase of 41 per cent deaths in the UAE.

Middle aged men, aged 35 to 65 years, have a higher risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) than women and are predisposed to abnormal obesity and metabolic syndrome.

"Deaths due to CVD are reported more among males than females across all age groups, where over 90 per cent of such deaths occur over the age of 45 years," said the nutritionist.

Qazaq told Gulf News in an exclusive interview there should be more awareness regarding food intake especially amongst younger children, and is now in the process of conducting research to evaluate obesity amongst children.

Fast food

He said cardiovascular diseases could be avoided if people ate a variety of fruit and vegetables every day, since this helps lower fat and boost vitamins and minerals in the body; choose non-fat or low fat products and read labels before buying the product; use lean meats such as chicken, fish, turkey and lean cuts of beef; limit intake of foods that contain high calories and take physical exercise.

"My advice to people is to read the labels on food products carefully, to ask for grilled meat rather than cooked, to omit unnecessary fatty products such as mayonnaise and ketchup when eating in a fast food restaurant. Practicing these habits can result in a healthy lifestyle," he said.

The doctor previously conducted research regarding obesity amongst schoolchildren in Al Ain, where he found that around 25 per cent suffer from being overweight and obese.

Dr Ameena Sadiya, a nutritionist, who spoke after Qazaq in the meeting said people in the UAE were not using the gift offered amongst Mediterranean food diets and instead followed the Western one.

"One serving of French fries contributes from seven to eight per cent of grams of fatty acids."