Dubai: Weight reduction, medical nutrition therapy and a therapeutic lifestyle can halve the risks of diabetes and obesity, said doctors at a symposium on Thursday.

Without preventative efforts, the consequences of both medical conditions are often grave.

Leaving unchecked the twin epidemics of diabetes and obesity is resulting in serious health complications such as cardiovascular disease which is responsible for 70 per cent of fatalities in the UAE and remains the highest killer after road accidents.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) held a family clinic symposium for sustainable health solutions for the community on Thursday where doctors warned of the risks of ignoring both conditions.

The focus of the symposium was creating awareness and education about non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, hyperlipidmia (high cholesterol) and stroke and heart disease which can, with effective management at Primary Health Centres (PHCs) be either prevented, delayed or even managed well without resulting in other health complications, medical professionals said.

The doctors quoted recommendations made by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) which have suggested a three-pronged strategy of weight loss, good nutrition and active lifestyle to stem the unbridled diabesity epidemic.

Dr Mariam Ahmad Shaker, consultant family physician from the Ministry of Health’s Al Muhaisanah Health Centre, told Gulf News: “The PHCs are the first line of defence where prediabetes can be caught early on and with proper dietary advice, investigations and change in lifestyle many of the complications can be avoided. Similarly, education on nutrition and tailoring diets according to individual needs can help individuals cut back on calories and stop obesity.”

Dr Salah Abo Snana, consultant endocrinologist from the University Hospital of Sharjah, pointed out that chronic diseases such as these were responsible for 75 per cent of the health care spending and emphasised the need for a diabetes prevention programme.

He quoted several studies carried out in the UK and USA that prove through controlled trial that a Medical Nutrition Therapy and Glycaemic Targeted Specialised Nutrition Therapy can actually make a dramatic reduction of the glycosalated haemoglobin reading which is an important indicator for blood sugar levels.

The therapies can cut the risk of diabetes and reduce the onset of other complications such as heart disease and hypertension which diabetics naturally develop.

“This kind of nutrition therapy is the use of the knowledge of nutrients to improve the health of an individual tailored to his cultural and social needs and is important at all levels of prevention and management of the disease,” he said.

Dr Mohammad Milad, Consultant Endocrinologist from Al Ain Hospital, said: “Reducing seven per cent of the body weight, introducing moderate physical activity of 30 minutes a day and focussing on healthy food choices was enough to reduce diabetes risk by half and also help manage the disease better.”

Dr Pradeep Kumar Gupta, Cardiovascular consultant from RAK Hospital, addressed the symposium highlighting the exciting discovery of new drugs that are now available in the UAE that can reduce the risk of heart disease by nearly 30 per cent.