Diabetes is a huge problem in Oman. Reportedly around 15% of the adult population, and growing. (for comparison, the rate in Europe is half that). The reason is pretty simple – Omanis generally eat too much crap, don’t exercise enough, and too many adults are, lets face it, FAT. FAT FAT FAT. Its fortunate the national dress of Oman isn’t based on spandex and lycra I can tell you.
As body-mass index increases, the risk of diabetes rises exponentially. We can talk about ‘genetic predisposition’ but that often strikes me as a convenient excuse to avoid placing the blame where it belongs: our choices of life-style, diet and exercise. Instead of glowing PR when yet another fast food franchise opens in Oman, or when Pizza hut figures out how to get even more cheese down out throats, we should be complaining at yet another attempt to subvert the diets of our children. For a country with an acknowledged problem of diabetes, there seems to be more sugar consumed here than anywhere I’ve ever lived.
The Government should be doing a lot more to encourage healthier diets: fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat flours), skinless chicken and fish (not cooked to death either), olive and canola oil rather than corn and sunflower oils, and pure fruit juices. Hell, why not tax sugar and junk food?
But it’s not just Oman that continues to promote food that is bad for health. Here a story about Qatar too that mirrors what’s going on here. (and from the UAE based Gulf News – the Dragon’s preferred source of news about Oman!) Qataris on a fast track to serious health problems
Qataris on a fast track to serious health problems
Published: May 30
Doha: With the increasing popularity of fast food outlets among Qatari and expatriate residents, health officials have expressed concern about the long-term impact of junk food consumption on public health.
Since the first fast food outlet opened in 1995, at least 27 international fast food chains have set up hundreds of eateries across Qatar, changing the population's eating habits for good. The result is catastrophic, experts have warned, with diabetes spreading like wildfire among adults and children in Qatar.
"Obesity is the major risk factor leading to diabetes and the modern fast food culture is an important factor behind the increasing number of overweight children and adults all over the world.
"Unfortunately, governments and policy makers do not take the issue with the seriousness it deserves," said Samad Shar'a, honorary president of the International Diabetes Federation, during a recent visit to Doha.
Shar'a called for a total ban of junk food at least in school cafeterias, to protect youngsters from diabetes, a life-long condition that affects many in the Gulf. According to the World Health Organisation the prevalence of diabetes is 15 to 20 per cent in the Gulf region, against 8 to 11 per cent in South East Asian countries.