Obe­sity is on the rise, and gyms are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar

The Kurdish Globe - - COMMENTS & ANALYSIS -

With im­prov­ing stan­dards of liv­ing in Kur­dis­tan, obe­sity ap­pears to be a grow­ing con­cern as peo­ple have more money to buy food. That has driven many peo­ple to head to gyms to over­come the prob­lem and the government to try to raise aware­ness of the health con­se­quences of obe­sity.

The stan­dard of liv­ing in Kur­dis­tan has im­proved tremen­dously in the past years. With the emer­gence of su­per­mar­kets, hun­dreds of fran­chised restau­rants, mega shop­ping malls and easy trans­port, peo­ple are in­creas­ingly turn­ing to a lux­u­ri­ous life­style. The new changes in a rel­a­tively short pe­riod of time has its own con­se­quences, one of them be­ing obe­sity.

In the past there were few fast food restau­rants, but since 2004 ev­ery res­i­den­tial area has a fast­food restau­rant. Of course obe­sity is not a new prob­lem in Kur­dis­tan, but with glob­al­iza­tion and the new im­age of women, as ‘slen­der’ and ‘fit’ gyms are be­com­ing a pop­u­lar place for them. Sim­i­larly, men are us­ing gym to work out and for body­build­ing. How­ever, there seems to be a greater num­ber of women that go to gym than men.

At the In­ter­na­tional Body­build­ing Cen­ter, a 36-year old woman who reg­u­larly vis­its the gym to work out said, “I gained weight be­cause I was ad­dicted to eat­ing sug­ary and fatty things, I just couldn’t help my­self”. She reg­is­tered nearly five weeks ago, and suf­fers from di­a­betes. Par­ween, beam­ing with pride ex­plained that the level of sugar in her blood was 380 and has dropped to 125 since she first reg­is­tered her­self at the gym.

Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government’s Min­istry of Health and Ed­u­ca­tion in co­op­er­a­tion with their Iraqi coun­ter­parts, and the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion have held numer­ous work­shops in schools within Kur­dis­tan to raise aware­ness about the con­se­quences of obe­sity among chil­dren, its dan­gers. The Chief Press of­fi­cer for the Min­istry of Health com­mented, “Obe­sity is in all age groups, es­pe­cially among chil­dren. This is why we have con­cen­trated ex­ten­sively on them”.

There are sev­eral fac­tors that play a role in obe­sity, namely ge­net­ics and life­style. Eat­ing too much pro­cessed food, and lead­ing a seden­tary life­style con­trib­utes sig­nif­i­cantly to obe­sity. Those who are obese of­ten feel os­tra­cized within their com­mu­nity, or even ‘left out’ as a re­sult this can cause them to be in­ac­tive, and harm their health even fur­ther. Par­win ex­plained that, “I feel em­bar­rassed when I am in so­cial gath­er­ing and peo­ple talk about my weight, as if I don’t have a mir­ror in my house, or need them to re­mind me of my weight”.

One of the fit­ness train­ers at In­ter­na­tional Body­build­ing Cen­tre, said women at her gym are cu­ri­ous and fre­quently ask about the work­outs they should con­cen­trate on for ton­ing, and los­ing weight. She said, “Cus­tomers are given a sched­ule, and a list of food prod­ucts that have low calo­ries, and are healthy for them”.

Ex­er­cis­ing on a reg­u­lar ba­sis has not be­come in­cor­po­rated into our life­style. We don’t have a cul­ture where healthy food is given prece­dence. Our tra­di­tional dishes are of­ten oily and fatty, es­pe­cially the much-loved ‘dolma’, which is more than of­ten a dish served ex­ces­sively. If we want to be healthy, we have to change our at­ti­tude to­wards food com­pletely.

A mid­dle aged man per­forms ex­er­cise to lose weight in Ahmed Rambo Body­build­ing Sports Hall in the cap­i­tal city of Er­bil.

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