Cardiovascular diseases are the biggest killer in Oman after road accidents, according to the President of the Oman Medical Association. “After road traffic accidents, it is cardiovascular diseases that are the major cause of death,” said Dr Waleed Al Zadjali. “It is related to smoking, obesity, and hypertension.”
This comes just a couple of days after the world’s heaviest woman, who weighed 500kg, died due to complications from heart disease and kidney dysfunction. “Obesity is life threatening and it has happened before especially during surgeries in Oman too.” According to the Global Nutrition Report 2016, Oman has one of the highest obesity rates globally, and is ranked 168 out of 190 countries. According to Dr Al Zadjali, it is a sedentary lifestyle, poor food choices, and lack of exercise that are the main causes of such a high level of obesity in Oman. Obesity in turn leads to numerous health complications.
“I would ask people to do regular exercises and reduce their weight as obesity can lead to hypertension, diabetes, heart complications,” he said, “On an average, people visit a clinic or a hospital at least three to four times a year. The private sector is seeing repeated patients and visits to the clinic have become almost 6 million per year.” “The government and other non-governmental bodies are taking initiatives to help improve people’s lifestyle in Oman,” he added. “There are programmes to cut down salt in food, cut down oils. Even in supermarket there are supervisions (to check the quality of food). There is awareness to reduce obesity as well.”
In the past few years there have been a number of awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of healthy living and push people away from unhealthy eating habits. Earlier this year, there were increasing calls for schools in Oman to become junk-free zones and encourage children to include more fruits in their diet. Dr. Sajeev Bhaskar is a family practitioner at the Al Lamki Medical Centre in Muscat, and has advised people on improving their health for over 27 years in the Sultanate. “The oils that are used by people today are hydrogenated, and this leads to a lowering of good cholesterol in the body,” he explained. “Good cholesterol, also known as high-density lipids (HDL), helps clean the inside of the body. Hydrogenated oils lower the levels of HDLs in the body, which means the body cannot clean itself efficiently, and that is the cause of all of these cardiovascular diseases.”