Two-thirds population of the country obese or overweight: Health official

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KARACHI: Health officials and medical scientists on Thursday observed that two-thirds population of the country was either obese or overweight due to sedentary lifestyle. The most dangerous part of our findings is that 10 million children in the country are suffering from obesity amid growing use of sugar-sweetened beverages, oily foods and fast-shrinking sports and physical activities, especially at school levels, according to them.

They also called for making sugar-sweetened beverages ‘unaffordable’ to people with increased taxes, warning that Pakistan could become the leading country with highest number of children suffering from diabetes if drastic measures were not yet taken.

They said that the majority of citizens were obese or overweight due to sedentary lifestyle and asked the authorities concerned to concentrate on the health of children and take measures to prevent them from becoming diabetic by including healthy lifestyle practices in the curriculum and making physical activities mandatory at schools.

Part of a panel, the health experts and officials were speaking at a news conference in connection with World Diabetes Day 2021 organised by the Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES) in connection with Discovering Diabetes project at the Karachi Press Club.

Renowned endocrinologist and publication secretary of the Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES) Dr Musarrat Riaz said according to a recent study, around two-thirds of Pakistanis are either obese or overweight, and added that around 33 million people are suffering from diabetes in the country.

“Pakistan now ranks third in the world with number of people with diabetes where over 33 million are diabetics,” she said. “Similarly, same number of people are pre-diabetic, which means that they are also going to become diabetics in the years to come”, Dr Musarrat Riaz said and added that around 15 million people became diabetic in Pakistan in just past three years.

“The diabetes is far bigger and horrific disease as compared to Covid-19 for Pakistan. It is killing thousands of people annually in Pakistan due to renal failure and other complications while thousands of others are getting their limbs amputated due to peripheral neuropathy caused by the disease.”

Director health of Karachi Dr Akram Sultan explained that diabetes is part of a condition called metabolic syndrome in which a person suffers from diabetes, heart disease and stroke and added that all these conditions have same risk factors which include physical inactivity, consumption of unhealthy food and use of tobacco among others.

“The provincial government has not only established institutes for treatment and awareness regarding diabetes, but it is also participating in campaigns with private sector to promote healthy lifestyle, consumption of healthy diet, stressing importance of exercise and avoiding risk factors that lead people to diabetes and other non-communicable disease,” he said.

Coordinator of the Discovering Diabetes Project Abdus Samad said they had launched the project to help those people who were living with diabetes, but they were unaware of their disease and added that they had planned to screening one million people in one year.

“Those who have family history of diabetes, are over 40 years of age and are overweight, can call at our helpline 0800-66766 anytime and we would arrange fasting blood sugar test and tele-health consultation free of charge”, Abdus Samad said, adding that they were also going to schools to educate children about unhealthy lifestyle and bad eating habits that lead to diabetes.

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