Weighed down: Gulf region plagued with rising obesity, but people now determined to reverse the trend

Posted on by Ashok Jyoti

The Gulf region is producing more obese people these days. Thankfully, these nations are fighting back, although much damage has been done already. Immensely rich with oil, with top-notch per-capita-income, the Gulf countries have figured badly in the health sector.

The prevalence of child obesity in Gulf countries reaches up to 20% in women and 15% in men. Up to 55% adult women are obese in quite a few Gulf countries, whereas the figure is 30% in the case of their counterparts.


People’s lifestyle has taken a downward turn. They are consuming more and more sugar-dense drinks and fast foods, and this trend has been in operation for the last two decades. Not only food, the technological advances like availability of more cars, escalators, and elevators have prevented people from leading an active, exercised life. Comfort has overtaken the need for staying healthy…

But the trend could be turning now, with more and more people refusing to live with ill health.

Mehdi Berrada’s story is one such fine example of courage and the will to live happy and healthy. Mehdi Berrada amazingly went from size XXXL to size S in 9 months, highlight that where there is a will, there is a way.


The Dubai-based Moroccan is 34 years old and weighed over 120kg in April, 2015.

Mehdi said, “I had an addictive relationship with food and felt powerless over it. I wore an XXXL and invariably looked for pants that had elastic on the sides. I suffered more than 500 episodes of sleep apnea every night, meaning my breathing would stop that many times putting my life at constant risk.”


As cases of obesity are rising in the UAE, more and more patients are being advised to go for weight-loss surgeries. In the fight against obesity, surgery is the last option for people. Doctors, however, say that people should not take obesity lightly, and must take weight-control measures from the beginning.

Mehdi was running out of options and had he delayed beyond a point, surgery could’ve been the last resort. Instead of getting under the knife, Mehdi focused on seeking support from nutritionists, therapists, doctors and personal trainers. “Obesity is not a battle against the body but the mind”, said a jubilant Berrada.

What about the high cost of sessions with personal trainers, therapists…?  “I spent far more on the food I ate earlier than what I do now on a personal trainer,” said Berrada.

Mehdi Berrada believes people who are trying to lose weight should focus on health benefits, instead of appearance or a number on the scale.

A very good advice from the man who has done it.



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