A Patient Summit is being hosted by World Obesity on 5 December in Muscat, bringing together patients from around the region to hear the advice and wisdom of expert healthcare professionals.
They will also engage in dialogue about their own personal experiences in living with obesity and how they have navigated the healthcare systems in their own country.
The World Obesity Federation is global network which represents members drawn from the scientific and medical communities from over 60 international obesity associations, with increasing participation from around the Gulf region.
In response to the interest shown and the need for dedicated obesity groups, World Obesity helped start the Gulf and Lebanon Steering Committee to address rising obesity levels. A number of initiatives have since started in the region, including the Patient Summit in Muscat.
Recognising the importance of the patient, World Obesity recently launched its Global Patient Network providing evidence-based content for people living with the disease and their families as well as a wealth of valuable information about individuals own experiences.
Running concurrently to this, World Obesity Federation supported by a number of regional groups such as the NDEC and ODA, and in collaboration with Gulf Obesity & Metabolic Surgery Society (GOSS), will be hosting a regional conference at the Sheraton Hotel. The forum will focus on the critical issue of obesity amongst women and children, and the crucial role mothers play in shaping healthy diets and lifestyles.
The objective of the conference is to provide health care professionals with the latest insights to treatments and curative strategies presented by experts, through panel discussions and interactive workshops, aiming to help address the epidemic in the region. It will also feature the contribution of individuals living with the consequences of obesity and how their lives are being rebuilt after successful treatment and intervention.
Doctors from the Gulf area and guests from the USA, will debate a variety of issues at the conference, from the psychological challenges associated with addictive foods to how Type 2 Diabetes can be reversed through weight loss. It will also seek to explain why women are more susceptible to obesity than men, and the hereditary threat posed to children as obesity develops into a transgenerational disease.
The Chair of the conference and one of the keynote speakers is Dr Noor Al Busaidi. She has worked as a senior consultant physician at Muscat’s Royal Hospital, together with being Chairperson of the National Diabetes Committee within Oman’s Ministry of Health. Dr Busaidi said: “Women play a pivotal role as the guardians of the health and wellbeing of families. Evidence suggests that women in the region are more prone to obesity, impacting fertility, contributing towards diabetes and causing cardiovascular disease. Metabolic changes during pregnancy can also increase the risk of children developing obesity.”
The President of the World Obesity Federation, Dr. Donna Ryan, will also be addressing the conference, presenting a keynote that seeks to explain the changing narrative associated with obesity and a paper on why weight loss is so difficult, but weight regain is so easy. Dr Ryan said: “Society needs to recognise more openly the challenges people with obesity face in dealing with their disease, and the difficulties to both themselves and their families. Often cultural issues also inhibit treatment, contributing towards the stigma associated with obesity, which we will address during the conference.”
Obesity is a complex disease. While diet and lack exercise have been considered the sole causes, genetics, the external environment and cultural traditions are all contributing factors. Moreover, many people living with obesity experience a misplaced sense of shame that can make it harder to seek support and advice.
The World Obesity Patient Summit and the wider conference are opportunities for clinicians and patients to share their own experiences and support other people living with obesity to manage weight loss, advocate for better treatment and care, and live healthy, active lifestyles.