UAE: Abu Dhabi 360 to make emirate one of the healthiest, happiest places globally

UK-based expert who contributed to its design and concept says it is a wellness programme that actually works


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Sat 18 Feb 2023, 5:07 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 1:27 PM

Residents of the UAE Capital are privileged to live in one of the most diverse and prosperous cities in the world. They enjoy some of the world’s best entertainment, food, and style, and there are opportunities at every turn. It’s an amazing place to live, but it can come with a downside: a rising trend of lifestyle disease, said UK-based public health expert and an international advisor on social change programming.

“Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are the top health risks in developed countries. Convenience and easy access to goods are nearly synonymous with progress," Dr John Bromley, who contributed to the design and concept of Abu Dhabi 360, told Khaleej Times. "Residents of wealthy countries can get what they want with a few taps on a smartphone. No need to work for their food. No need to cook. No need to even leave the house. Thanks to this progress, as a society, we are heavier and more sedentary than we have ever been.”

According to research, one in five people in the UAE live with Type 2 diabetes, and that number is expected to double by 2040. “It’s a dangerous issue, but the trend is reversible,” underlined Dr Bromley.

Lifestyle change should be for the long-term and not just for a few weeks of January when most people start following New Year resolutions.

“If New Year’s resolutions to join the gym, eat healthier, and lose those holiday kilos were effective, we wouldn’t be facing these challenges.”

Dr Bromley pointed out that community members must learn from the UAE’s success in managing Covid-19 pandemic.

“The country launched a national, cross-government public health campaign encouraging us to do our part to make the community stronger and safer, and it worked. The people of the UAE demonstrated that they can accomplish incredible things when they work together.”

In December 2022, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council launched Abu Dhabi 360 – a community-wide programme dedicated to whole-person wellness. Dr Bromley, who is associated with the programme, stressed that it will lead the community towards a healthier and happier future.

“It’s not easy to create a wellness programme that actually works. Many have tried and failed. But I’ve designed and led effective public health campaigns around the world, and I can say with confidence that Abu Dhabi 360 is different from anything else the emirate has ever seen.”

Making a difference

Asked to explain how Abu Dhabi 360 will make the emirate one of the healthiest and happiest places in the world for generations to come, Dr Bromley offered seven pointers:

1. It’s evidence-based: Abu Dhabi 360 is built on a tried-and-tested behaviour theory called COM-B, which says that to change their behaviour, people need capability, motivation, and opportunity. Abu Dhabi 360 provides all three.

2. It focuses on whole-person wellness: Abu Dhabi 360 is not a weight-loss or a sports initiative. It’s a whole-person wellness programme designed to help people invest in every aspect of their health – because as we’ve learned over the last few years, there is no physical health without mental or social health.

3. It’s accessible: Abu Dhabi 360 uses multiple mediums, with something for everyone – an app with support tools and rewards, encouraging articles and meditation exercises, a comprehensive calendar of sporting events and family activities, community challenges, and more.

4. It takes an individualised approach: There is a customisable pathway for everyone, from gym enthusiasts to people who can’t catch a ball or do a push-up. The creators of Abu Dhabi 360 want the community to get moving in a way that feels good to them and lets them enjoy exercise instead of seeing it as a chore, and that shows them that healthy food can also be delicious and interesting.

5. It’s inclusive: Abu Dhabi 360 is for people of every age, shape, and ability level, including people of determination.

6. It’s localised: It is designed specifically for the people of Abu Dhabi, considering their local health concerns, climate, and culture.

7. There is one problem: Even the most respected research and sophisticated programme design won’t lead to change if the community doesn’t rally together. A programme isn’t enough. Abu Dhabi needs a community-wide wellness movement. So, as you begin 2023, you could buy a gym membership and look up some salad recipes. Or you could make a long-term investment in yourself, your family, and your community by committing to be

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