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JustHere | November 15, 2017

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Richest, fattest. Obesity is not in our genes, it’s in our lifestyle

Richest, fattest. Obesity is not in our genes, it’s in our lifestyle

From the total number of people who are obese in Qatar, only 10-15% suffer from gland disorders such as hypothyroidism (a medical condition affecting the thyroid gland). For the rest, it’s their lifestyle that is the leading cause of obesity, says Dr Mahmoud Ali Zirie, a Senior Consultant for Internal Medicine, Diabetes and Endocrinology at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).

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Obesity doesn’t only cause diabetes.

It also gives rise to other health issues such as hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis (joint pain), and cardiovascular diseases. Some cancers too have been linked to obesity, studies for which are still being carried out.
But of course, diabetes type-2 is still the major health issue affecting obese patients. In 2008, HMC carried out a study in which 60% of diabetic nationals (both males and females) were found to be obese. Among the non-diabetic nationals, 35% of females aged 25-60 years were obese. Obesity is also on a rise among children and adolescents, many diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.

Plan a healthy diet

There are several diet centres in Qatar, but according to Dr Mahmoud, you can take care of your diet yourself. Here’s what your meal should typically comprise:

  • 50% carbohydrates (breads, rice, potatoes, etc) – Switch to whole wheat bread or brown rice.
  • 20% proteins (meat products, eggs) – Limit red meat consumption as it has more fat than other meats. For chicken, remember to remove skin while cooking. Also chicken breast has less fat than leg. When it comes to eggs, avoid the yolk.
  • 30% fats – Reduce consumption of those fats of animal origin; choose vegetable fats that are more healthy.
  • Make fruits and vegetables a staple in your diet. Among fruits, oranges and apples can be eaten in generous portions, but since grapes and bananas are known to contain calories, eat little of those.

JustHere sat down with Dr Mahmoud to understand why a good number of residents, mainly nationals, are growing overweight.
The primary cause, he says, is the unhealthy lifestyle that people indulge in which can be attributed to their economic stature. Given that Qatar is home to the highest number of millionaires in the world, nationals are wealthy. “Obesity is generally found among wealthy people. If you are wealthy, you have cars, computers, TV and other gadgets that force you to lead a more sedentary lifestyle.”

Secondly, it’s what you eat that makes you obese. “Many patients complain that they are eating less but still not able to lose weight. It’s not the quantity, but the quality that affects weight. You might be eating less, but what you eat could have double the calories. You need to be wary of the calorie content of each food.”

The fast food frenzy in the country is also to be blamed for unhealthy eating habits. “Fast foods contain more calories than home-cooked food. You need to know how many calories go into one burger, a packet of fries and a cup of soft drink. You end up eating more calories than what your body requires. If you eat 500 calories less than what you need, you can lose weight.”

For instance did you know one Egg McMuffin at McDonalds contains 321 kilocalories (kcal)? While the recommended calorie intake for an average person is between 1500 and 2000 kcal per day, just one Egg McMuffin provides between 15% -25% of a person’s daily caloric intake. Click here to read JustHere’s earlier report.

Apart from this, psychological factors too play a role in obesity. A person’s mood is known to influence their eating patterns. “If you are depressed, you eat more. Hence it’s important that obese patients are constantly motivated to lose weight. If you have the will, you can get back to shape,” assures the doctor.

So what to do if you are obese?

1. Check with your physician if you are suffering from gland (thyroid, endocrine or adrenal) disorders that could be the cause why you are obese. There are treatments for this available.
2. Consult a dietician to know how many calories does your body require per day. This is determined by your age, weight, daily life activities and profession.
3. Burn fat by exercising. The easiest exercise is to walk 30 minutes, three to four times a week.
4. There are weight-loss medications available over the counter but only with a doctor’s prescription. Check with your doctor.


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