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Experts shed light on obesity in Kuwait Center for Gulf Studies, AUK dept host lecture

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 5: The Center for Gulf Studies and the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the American University of Kuwait presented a lecture entitled ‘Obesity in Kuwait : “Popular myths and misconceptions” on Wednesday. The panel of judges included Bahareh Azizi, Director of business studies development and communications, Dasman Diabetes Institute. Lemia Shaban, Assistant professor of Clinical Nutrition, Kuwait University. Ebba Al- Ozairi, Assistant professor, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University. Hossein Arefanian, head of pancreatic unit, Dasman Diabetes Institute and Nicholas Scull, Assistant professor of Psychology, AUK who further discussed obesity epidemic in Kuwait.

Azizi explained the link between obesity and diabetes and how obesity increases the risk of being diabetic. “Obesity is probably the most important factor in the development of insulin resistance and it has been well established that obesity promotes insulin resistance through the inappropriate inactivation of a process called gluconeogenesis, where the liver creates glucose for fuel and which ordinarily occurs only in times of fasting. Yet, not all obese people become insulin resistant, and insulin resistance occurs in non-obese individuals also. Arefanian also shed light upon the many reasons for obesity to prevail so highly in Kuwait. “There is a clear association between the sleep problems such as short sleep duration and the psychological disorders and with quality of life impairment.

Despite the very high levels of problems in these patients, those involved usually don’t ask about sleep problems and often pay little heed to the psychological issues underlying the obesity. Portion size has also increased. People may be eating more during a meal or snack because of larger portion sizes. This results in increased calorie consumption. If the body does not burn off the extra calories consumed from larger portions, fast food, or soft drinks, weight gain can occur. Discussing the Gulf Metabolic syndrome the panel of judges spoke about how Gulf has experienced a rapid evolution of obesogenic urbanization because of its oil wealth. Al-Ozairi said “For instance, the society-wide introduction and availability of labor saving devices, cheap high calorie food, freely available water, as well as air conditioning. This has resulted in the removal of nearly all positive hormetic stressors that have, in the past, optimized biological fitness of the population and has occurred in an extremely short and epigenetically important time frame of 2-3 generations. The rising levels of obesity and the metabolic syndrome are leading to a pandemic of diseases.

The ultimate conclusion is that within this generation, some Gulf populations may start to experience significant falls in absolute life expectancy, while their healthy life expectancy could fall to less than 40 years. As the metabolic syndrome is largely preventable, a return to a healthier way of living is of paramount importance in this region - in all age groups. It may well be less about genetics but more about epigenetic and breaking the transmission of stress-induced insulin resistance between generations by reinstatement of hormesis.

By: Priyanka K. Oberoi Arab Times Staff

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