UAE has fewer diabetic, obese residents in 2018 vs 2010: Poll
Dubai - The number of adults suffering from high cholesterol is at 43.7 per cent, down from 57.6 per cent in 2010.
The UAE's efforts to combat lifestyle diseases appeared to have been bearing fruit, as the results of the 2017-2018 National Health Survey showed significant improvements for the country.
According to the findings that the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) released on Monday (March 25), the prevalence of diabetes among the UAE's adults dropped to 15 per cent; while those who have high blood glucose or are taking diabetes medications dropped to 11.8 per cent last year, down from 18.9 per cent in 2010.
The number of adults suffering from high cholesterol is at 43.7 per cent, down from 57.6 per cent in 2010. Obesity has gone down to 27.8 per cent, from 37.2 per cent in 2010.
Even smoking registered a slight decline, with the proportion of adult smokers going down from 11.1 per cent in 2010 to 9.1 per cent last year.
A significant increase has also been noted in breastfeeding awareness, with 59.7 per cent of the study's participants confirming that babies are exclusively breastfed up to five months. In 2010, the breastfeeding figure was just at 34 per cent.
The two-year study, called 'My Health is a Priority', which started in October 2017, surveyed around 10,000 Emirati and expat families based on World Health Organisation indicators and the UAE's health-related national agenda.
Indicators comprised diet, physical activity, screening for cervical cancer, physical measurements, diabetes, cholesterol, cardiovascular diseases, and tobacco use. The survey also measured healthcare use, individual and family spending on health, environmental health, and vital signs of residents and Emirati nationals.
"These indicators aim to reduce risk factors and non-communicable diseases, mortality, and morbidity, thereby improving healthy life expectancy," according to Mohap.
Abdul Rahman bin Mohamed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said: "The outcome of this survey will help update the results of several strategic health indicators and promote programmes of national health planning and policies, in addition to achieving UAE Vision 2021 and the objectives of Sustainable Development 2030."
Dr Hussein Al Rand, assistant undersecretary for health centre and clinics at Mohap, said the survey's results show that the UAE's efforts in fighting lifestyle diseases in recent years are bearing fruit.
"The percentage of smokers over the age of 18 years has gone as low as 9.1 per cent. The significant decrease is attributed to activating Tobacco Control laws and regulations; strengthening smoking cessation services and health awareness campaigns; the Federal Law No. 15 of 2009 regarding Tobacco Control Public health draft law; increasing the number of smoking cessation clinics; and levying excise tax on tobacco products, among other initiatives," he said.
Dr Al Rand added that the proportion of adults suffering from obesity has gone down due to "government actions like launching health awareness campaigns, early intervention programmes for children and adults with weight loss challenges, drafting a public health law, launching an interactive map for venues promoting physical activities."
There has also been an 'Etminan' initiative, which is a periodic examination programme that measures people's body mass and refers overweight and obese people to nutrition clinics or weight care centres.
Hypertension cases have gone up
The number adults suffering from hypertension or have reported taking hypertension medicines, on the other hand, have gone up to 28.8 per cent from 14.7 per cent in 2010.
Stressing that such a trend will be addressed promptly, Dr Al Rand said: "To reduce the prevalence of hypertension, the ministry will intensify its efforts to launch hypertension awareness campaigns, early detection, reduce salt consumption, and will coordinate with competent authorities to pass a legislation reducing the consumption of salt and saturated fats."
He said the next survey would be conducted after five years. He told Khaleej Times that the transitory nature of expats will not affect the survey results.