By 2023 it is forecasted that 78.8% of premature deaths in the UAE will be the result of non-communicable diseases associated with obesity
Dubai, UAE, 14th November 2022 – WEMA Health, a virtual-first, medicated, end-to-end obesity program, launches in the UAE on World Diabetes Day to provide personalised solutions to tackle the rising obesity pandemic in the country. Today, obesity affects approximately 20 million people in the GCC alone and in the UAE specifically, it is estimated that the prevalence of obesity by 2030 will reach its highest peak, affecting 50% of women and 37% of men. However, obesity is not only impacting the general health of the UAE community but alarmingly, is now the primary cause of premature death (before 70 years of age). By 2023, it is forecasted that 78.8% of premature deaths in the UAE will be the result of non-communicable diseases associated with obesity, these include diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and musculoskeletal disorders.
Research by WEMA Health to observe World Diabetes Day on 14th November 2022, puts a spotlight on the enormous gap in the perceptions and attitudes toward obesity from People with Obesity (PwO) and Healthcare Practitioners (HCPs), reflecting an urgent need to understand weight management concerns to initiate earlier and more effective PwO–HCP conversations.
This research comes at a time when people affected by obesity are struggling to achieve long-term weight loss in the UAE. Amongst those surveyed, which included a total of 750 PwO (People with Obesity, ≥18 years with a BMI of ≥30 kg/m2) and 200 HCPs in the UAE, both PwO and HCPs acknowledged obesity as a chronic disease that has a substantial impact on overall health. However, current obesity management is limited by key misperceptions between PwO and HCPs in the UAE.
Not feeling comfortable enough to discuss obesity with HCPs (27%) was referenced as one of the main barriers towards not discussing weight and seeking out support from HCPs. And, for those who had a weight management discussion with an HCP, there was an average delay in the time of four years between the PwO starting to struggle with excess weight or obesity and having the discussion with an HCP. Furthermore, regarding the top motivators for weight loss, the PwO considered wanting to be more fit and in better shape as important (45%), while HCPs believed general health concerns to be the main motivator for losing weight (83%), demonstrating the misconceptions in understanding between PwO and HCP.
The results also highlighted the prior need for improvements in understanding the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours that both PwO and HCPs have toward obesity. With more awareness of the misconceptions, there is an opportunity today to improve the clinical management of obesity and to precipitate effective change to bridge the remaining gaps in obesity care in the UAE through personalised programs for PwO. No weight loss program is an instant solution, and an effective way for PwO to achieve weight-loss goals is through science-backed holistic solutions, such as the WEMA Health program which has seen tremendous success in European markets like Denmark. Founded by UAE-based Leyla Azizova and a team of digital health experts from Denmark in March 2022, this program offers a virtual-first, medicated, end-to-end obesity program that helps its members lose up to 20% of their body weight by deploying in-house specialists.
Leyla Azizova, Co-Founder of WEMA Health said, “Obesity is a holistic health problem and therefore needs a 360-degree, tailor-made weight loss program. With obesity rates rising rapidly in the UAE, it is time to look into holistic medical solutions that are needed to combat this epidemic effectively and sustainably, to change people’s lives and positively improve their health. WEMA Health is a science-driven and expert-founded weight loss program that is truly personalised for you, and empowers you to take control of your weight loss journey every step of the way.”
Co-developed with the world’s leading obesity scientists Prof. Filip K. Knop and Dr. Rita Nawar, WEMA Health connects its users with endocrine specialists on the state-of-the-art app, with a focus on diet, exercise and psycho-social support. WEMA Health also makes available to members the modern and clinically documented weight loss medicine, GLP-1, which is prescribed in tandem with professional and personalized cognitive behavioural coaching, empowering members to make lasting lifestyle changes. There is a need for immediate action in obesity care in the UAE and with its launch, WEMA Health is aiming to deliver much-needed patient care and understanding, uncompromising in its holistic approach to losing weight thus decreasing the risk of having diseases attributed to obesity.
Prof. Filip K. Knop, MD PhD, a leading expert in obesity said, “Our scientific understanding shows that obesity in the vast majority of cases is a chronic condition that requires medical treatment. Combining this treatment with fundamental lifestyle changes is what creates wholesome, sustainable, and meaningful solutions for patients”.
Dr. Rita Nawar, UAE’s leading endocrinologist & Medical Director of WEMA Health has treated people with obesity in the UAE for the past 15 years and said, “WEMA’s weight loss program is unique because it combines medical care with health coaching and a digital companion. This combination helps patients lose weight in a healthy way and achieve sustainable results”.
WEMA Health, which launched earlier this year in Denmark, announced a seed investment of USD 3.5 M in June 2022, incubated under Europe’s largest digital health company, Dawn Health. The first WEMA members will be initiated into the program this November. For more information on the program and to sign up, visit www.joinwema.com/en.