Dubai: Filipino expatriates should eat less takeout and processed food and exercise regularly to regain their health because many are falling ill with common lifestyle diseases, namely, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, doctors said.

Hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia or high cholesterol, and hyperuricaemia (high uric acid) and respiratory illnesses are the top five illnesses plaguing Filipinos in the UAE, doctors from The Medical City (TMC), the Philippines’ largest health-care network which recently opened in Dubai, said.

Acute gastroenteritis and peptic ulcer are also on the list of illnesses, many of which are lifestyle-induced, although heredity could also be a factor. Poor dietary choices rich in salt and fat, spurred by the abundance of processed food, are among the reasons why Filipinos have been diagnosed with such illnesses.

The findings mirror the most common illnesses among other residents in the UAE as well.

Dr Marissa Joson, a cardiologist at The Medical City, said the majority of Filipinos in the UAE either eat out or order food through the delivery or take away numerous times a week, affecting their health.

“Finger chips served with fried meat are commonly found in fast food meals. Potato is best consumed baked, not fried. The artery-hardening fries trigger hypertension that is just one step away from a chronic high blood pressure problem,” Joson said.

“Food containing high protein drives up the body’s uric acid unless the protein is used up in vigorous physical activities,” Joson added.

Joson stressed there is a certain measure of protein residents can have daily if they do not exercise. Exceeding these limits on a regular basis can lead to high uric acid which, in turn, causes gout.

“A person should be particularly careful to limit their intake of highly processed meat, such as meatloaf or sausage. A lot of our patients consume such food in large amounts but do not do anything to counter the negative effects,” Joson said.

Poor dietary choices are linked to heart disease and diabetes as well as cholesterol and uric acid problems. They also indirectly lead to gastric problems and peptic ulcers.

For the prevalence of respiratory illnesses, excess weight besides the amount of time spent in a stale air-conditioned environment, is to blame, Dr Rene Borromeo, a surgeon at The Medical City, said.