Dubai, UAE: A national health index by a private healthcare group suggests that UAE residents generally think they are healthy when in fact they suffer from many lifestyle diseases.
A survey of 1,000 residents showed that Emiratis, Indians and Arabs are happy with their health though the reality is different and more than half the respondents are either overweight or obese and barely exercise.
It showed that only half the respondents sleep for the recommended seven to eight hours every night, while a large segment of the population sleep less than four hours or less.
Dr Ravi Arora, specialist in internal medicine at NMC Speciality Hospital in Abu Dhabi, said the health index is not clinical data.
"It is meant to engage the people," he said, adding that NMC Healthcare will approach the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) with the findings.
Strangely enough, 53 per cent of the respondents feel their health has improved over the past few years, though 82 per cent drink sugary or carbonated drinks every week, and one in five smokes tobacco.
Dr B R Shetty, founder of NMC healthcare that initiated the index, said the findings are surprising.
"Most respondents said that having a healthy and active lifestyle was important to them, [but] these results show there is a lot to be done to improve actual wellness of the residents."
Dr Arora said despite the various health awareness campaigns conducted in the country, it seems necessary to reinforce the message to the people to take care of their health.
The survey showed that the emotional index of Indian expatriates was high at 63 on a scale of 0 to 100. This finding was contested by the media, with reporters saying that the number of suicides are highest in the Indian community.
The survey showed that 76 per cent of the respondents felt anxious, worried or upset at least once a month and 50 per cent were fairly stressed in their daily life.
The health index follows a survey of 5,000 households done in Dubai in 2009. Those results were equally disturbing. It showed that only 19 per cent of the population gets enough exercise to keep themselves healthy.
The common excuse seems to be the inclement weather, but doctors said it should not stop people from walking in the malls or getting on a stationary bike in a gym. Even more disturbing was the fact that only 7 per cent of Emirati men aged between 40 to 59 years got enough exercise to keep themselves healthy.
Dr Arora said the UAE is among the top five countries in the number of diabetics, and it is on the top of the list of countries with prediabetics, meaning that unless these people who are on the borderline do something now, they will surely become diabetic.
The DHA had also warned the number of people with heart diseases will increase and that hypertension or high blood pressure was a silent killer in the population.
© Gulf NewsApr 2014