Weighty issue

'Worrying' diabetes tests raise doubt on UAE's health

Every single volunteer who took part in a UAE Ministry of Health screening test for diabetes was found to be overweight - raising serious concerns about the state of the nation's health.

Out of the 400 volunteers who took part in the tests at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, every person weighed more than their recommended body mass index.

Sanofi-aventis, which conducted the tests along with the ministry, called the results "worrying" and said that the "volunteers were potentially at risk from diabetes or heart disease because of their higher than average weight/height ratio."

Jean-Marc Voissier, general manager, urged more to be done to educate people about healthy eating and exercise.

"The screening statistics are extremely worrying and we have to bring an end to this cycle of diabetes.

"We need education, education and more education," he said.

The tests also found that one in ten volunteers had high blood sugar levels, while one in seven had high blood pressure.

Nearly one in five UAE residents suffers from diabetes, a number which rises to two in five for the over 60s - a figure which last year ranked the UAE the second highest in the world per capital.

"Around 20% of people in this country are suffering with diabetes and much of that is due to diet and lack of exercise," said Dr Mahmoud Fikri, CEO Health Policies Affairs, and chairman of the National Board of Diabetes Control,

"These screening days are as much about awareness as they are about detection. It's a great initiative, but these results are obviously of great concern," he said.

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