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Expatriate Health Insurance News: Obesity proving big problem for expats in UAE

There is a growing problem with obesity among expatriates living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), doctors have warned.

Local people have long suffered with the problem with 67 per cent of men and 72 per cent of women considered overweight, but this issue is extending to those who move to the country from abroad too, reports the National.

It is thought that cases of obesity among expats could as much as triple over the next ten years and become the biggest cause of preventable deaths in the demographic.

This would mean that it would overtake smoking, which at present is attributed with the most people dying due to a specific factor.

Dr Fuad Ahmed, an obesity specialist consultant in the UAE, told the news provider: "When people come here they become obese."

He put this epidemic down to the combined factors of a culture of long working hours, availability of junk food and a climate that means people are not encouraged to exercise.

Dr Ahmed continued: "The curse of this civilisation is that we have stopped using our bodies and we eat too much. If you go back 30 years, people were more dependent on their bodies.

"Now, in this civilisation, everything is on their bottoms. Cars everywhere, lifts everywhere."

Another healthcare professional who has seen a change in expats towards more obesity is Rashi Chowdhary, who runs a nutrition and weight-loss service.

She says that the number of foreigners coming to see her has doubled in the past two years and many of these have tried diet pills as a quick fix because they are not prepared to change their lifestyles.

Ms Chowdhary said: "A sedentary lifestyle coupled with finding no time to exercise, high stress levels, lack of sleep and easily available and affordable fast food is the perfect recipe for a sluggish metabolism and quick weight gain."

She also found that the expats she deals with fit into two groups: those who are eating more; and those who are consuming fewer calories, but of a lower quality.

Despite eating less than the daily recommended calorific intake, these people are still obese as the body processes them in a different way.

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