Fat Dubai expats under scrutiny for poor health

Published:  8 Mar at 6 PM
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Tagged: Dubai, UAE
The seemingly unavoidable ‘Dubai Stone’ – the amount of weight the average expat puts on during his or her first year in the emirate – has been seen as a rite of passage for newbies.

Obesity specialists, however, aren’t treating it as a joke – they’re warning of severe health effects. Most new arrivals believe the active outdoor life on offer as well as the hot weather will result in the pounds dropping off, but the opposite is mostly true.

Lavish brunches, executive drinking and lazy lifestyles can pile on excess weight in an unbelievably short time. The UAE, it seems, is now the centre of an obesity epidemic, according to a recent survey in which the emirate was placed 7th of 117 countries on a Global Fat Scale.

Already, 20 per cent of its population suffers from diabetes, and childhood obesity is running at 15 per cent, with 39 per cent of children classed as overweight and heading for chronic obesity. Alarmingly, hundreds of concerned UAE parents are calling for children as young as 12 to receive gastric band surgery, a procedure not normally given to those below the age of 18.

One Dubai-based surgeon admits that he has performed the surgery as a treatment of last resort on morbidly-obese children as young as 11 years.However, there’s a get-out clause for expats, including health boot camps and personal trainers, plus calorie and nutrition-controlled meals and snacks delivered to condo doors by companies happily exploiting a gap in the foodie market. Convenience on a plate is the latest fad, although it’s not cheap.
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