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OBESITY IS NOT A MERE BODY IMAGE CONCERN BUT A SERIOUS DISEASE

On World Obesity Day, the Lebanese Society for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Lipids (LSEDL) and Novo Nordisk held a virtual awareness seminar on obesity and its negative effects on one’s health and quality of life. The seminar was attended by Director of the National Diabetes Program at the Ministry of Public Health Dr. Akram Ishtay, President of LSEDL Dr. Paula Atallah, President of the Association of Bariatric Surgeons Dr. Bassem Safadi, Vice President of the Lebanese Association for Nutrition and Dietetics Dr. Sally Sawaya, Doctor of Clinical Psychology Bernard Sousse, and famous actress Liliane Nimri who shared with the audience her experience with this disease. The seminar was moderated by Dr. Maya Barakeh.

Ashtay noted that “obesity rates in Lebanon are high. In fact, a World Health Organization study conducted in 2016 showed that 18 to 32% of the Lebanese struggle with obesity, and that Lebanon is among the nine countries of the Middle East and North Africa with the highest rates of obesity in the world. Lebanon ranks sixth in the Arab world after Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Libya.” He also stressed that the Ministry of Health paid special attention to this disease; in 2019 it launched a national campaign to spread awareness and health education in the Lebanese society about the causes of obesity, its complications, the means to prevent it, and the scientific methods used to treat it. Ashtay also underlined the necessity of concerted efforts between all the concerned parties, including the state, the civil society and the scientific community, to limit the spread of this disease and provide the necessary treatments for its sufferers.

In turn, Atallah explained that obesity, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a chronic disease caused by an excessive accumulation of fats in the body; a disease that leads to several health risks that pose a real threat to a patient’s life, such as Type 2 diabetes, Lipid Disorder, High Blood Pressure, and heart, arterial, and respiratory diseases. It also causes spine and joints problems, contributes to several mental illnesses, negatively impacts fertility, and, in today’s world, increases the risk of contracting the coronavirus, in addition to the increased risk of developing certain other malignant diseases due to obesity, be it directly or indirectly. “Therefore, obesity is not a simple concern about how a person’s body looks,” Atallah stressed, noting that obesity-related diseases can be treated if a correct medical approach is adopted.

For her part, Sawaya considered that “prevention remains the best and most efficient way to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases caused by obesity or associated with it,” explaining that this can be achieved by leading a sound and healthy lifestyle that revolves around eating healthy food in moderate quantities, staying active, and exercising regularly. She indicated that, “after shedding the extra weight, it is important to maintain a healthy weight by paying attention to the quality of food one consumes and continuing to practice healthy habits definitively.”

Safadi emphasized that “surgery is one of the approved methods in the treatment of obesity, but it must be carried out in accordance with the standards and specifications agreed upon and specified by international medical organizations.” He also explained that “the success of the surgical treatment in allowing the patient to shed the excess weight does not at all mean that the problem has been completely resolved, or that patients can return to their old ways of eating whatever their heart desired. Post-op, the patient must rather follow a healthy lifestyle, eat healthy food, exercise frequently, and adhere to medical instructions in order not to regain the lost weight and spiral back into obesity.”

In turn, Dr. Bernard Sousse spoke about the impacts of one’s quality of life on their weight gain journey, as the environment in which we live can increase the risk of obesity struggles. “Responsibility does not fall on the individual alone, but on the climate surrounding him since birth and during his various life stages, in addition to the role of society as a whole,” he explained. Although some obese people actually believe they can control their weight on their own, Sousse stressed that “medical and family support, in addition to the steps that can be taken to alter a patient’s behavior and mental well-being, are all important factors that play a significant role in addressing obesity.”

Actress Liliane Nimri, who has suffered firsthand with obesity and its complications, explained that “loving life, taking care of your health, having a strong sense of self-confidence, persevering, and turning a deaf ear to bullies, are all essential guidelines for people struggling with obesity.”

“He who bullies an obese person is an ignorant who is oblivious of the fact that obesity is a disease,” Nimri said, stressing that people with obesity must take good care of their health and continuously follow up on their condition with their doctors, in order to avoid obesity-related complications and chronic diseases.

General Manager of Novo Nordisk, Myriam Mezher, finally explained the negative consequences of obesity in economic and social terms, underscoring “the financial burden it poses on society as a whole, and on the guarantors, due to the high cost of treating the complications that result from the disease or are associated with it.” She also stressed the need for concerted efforts to be able to control this disease and limit its spread.

 

Source: National News Agency

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