Tackling the Obesity Epidemic



Insights from Nadeen Taha, The Valens Clinic’s Clinical Dietitian and Director of Clinical Dietetics & Nutrition

The challenge of obesity, defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation, is a significant health concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) categorizes a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25 as Overweight and over 30 as Obese.

The severity of Obesity, classified into class I, II, or III, directly correlates with the risk of various chronic diseases. These include cardiovascular diseases (e.g., stroke, heart disease), Diabetes Mellitus, musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis, and specific cancers.


Childhood obesity is of particular concern, as it often leads to obesity in adulthood, along with premature death from related complications and disability. It is associated with various health issues, such as breathing difficulties, an increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early signs of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and psychological impacts.

In Dubai, the prevalence of Overweight and Obesity among adults is alarmingly high, with about two-thirds of the population having excess body weight. Specifically, 42% are Overweight, and 28% are Obese. Interestingly, these conditions are frequently linked to sociodemographic and behavioral factors.

It is now common to find malnutrition (undernutrition) and Obesity co-existing at the same time, due to diets that are high in fats, sugars, salt, and poor in micronutrients.


Addressing Overweight and Obesity involves individualized dietary and lifestyle changes. Strategies include restricting energy-dense foods while increasing the intake of high-fiber foods like vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

Participating in regular physical activity for 150 minutes spread through the week for adults, and moderate activity of 60 mins per day for children may also reduce fat mass and risk.

When taking certain medications, such as Ozempic or Mounjaro, it is important to be in conjunction with a nutritional intervention in order to achieve effective weight loss that is both sustainable and long-term.