Obesity is a global health concern. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 30% of the world's population suffer from weight issues and the estimated prevalence in the Middle East does not differ from international records. In fact, 37% of people in the UAE are obese – one of six Middle Eastern countries with the highest rates of overweight and obesity globally.
While it is certain that many overweight individuals around the world have successfully made serious attempts to lose weight through diet, exercise, and medically supervised weight-loss programs, others have unfortunately failed in their attempts to do so, leading to the need for bariatric surgery – in some cases, on repeated occasions.
One of the latest repeat surgeries was performed on an Emirati gentleman at Bareen International Hospital in Mohammad Bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi. Seven years ago, at age 40, he underwent a gastric bypass which resulted in a weight loss of 160kgs – going from 270kgs to 110kgs. However, he regained over 90kgs in the subsequent years. Despite changing his lifestyle to a healthier one, the patient could not manage to lose his regained weight, so a redo surgery was offered to him. Following the medical operation, he has managed to lose nearly 40kgs to date, vastly improving his health and quality of life.
"More and more adults and children in the Middle East are undergoing bariatric surgery, correlating with the rising number of obesity cases in the region. In this case, the patient had tried changing his lifestyle. Despite his best efforts, he could not shift his weight back and it was impacting his health and the quality of his life," said Dr El Zaqui Ladha, Consultant - Bariatric and General Surgery at Bareen International Hospital – MBZ City.
Due to the increasing rate of obesity in the Middle East, surgeons say consistent awareness initiatives and preventive measures are needed in homes, communities, and schools. Easy access to unhealthy foods and sedentary lifestyle are the major contributors to the growing number of severely overweight individuals across the region.
"To prevent obesity, we encourage the general public to make determined efforts in maintaining a healthy lifestyle through conscious diet choices: eating fresh and homemade meals where possible to reduce sugar and salt intake. Regular exercise, whether walking, running, cycling or joining a gym can also help in keeping the weight down," added Dr Ladha.
The most common weight-loss surgeries involve either reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric band hence restricting food intake — or non-reversible procedures that involve removing a portion of the stomach or by re-routing the small intestine to a small stomach pouch.
However, in certain cases where non-invasive options have been deemed insufficient to address the problem, bariatric surgery can be performed as a treatment option. The surgery is rapidly gaining popularity as a safe and effective way to reduce weight in severely obese cases. "Weight-loss surgery should be a last resort," warned Dr Ladha. "If and when surgery becomes an option, it is discussed and evaluated at great length with the patient first. When the weight is controlled, it benefits not only the long-term health of the individual but also, it enables the person to lead a more fulfilling life."
About Bareen International Hospital Abu Dhabi:
Bareen International Hospital recognizes the value of every person and are guided by their commitment to excellence and leadership. They demonstrate this by providing exemplary physical, emotional and spiritual care for each of their patients and their families, and demonstrating social responsibility through the efficient use of their resources. The commitment of their staff, physicians, and community partners to their mission permits them to maintain a quality of presence and tradition of caring.
They offer an array of medical and surgical services, including 24-hour urgent care, backed by the latest technology. They strive to create a compassionate environment where their employees can deliver the best care every hour of every day. They focus on offering a wide range of consistent high-quality and up-to-date medical services that allow them to improve the health of the communities they serve with compassion and sensitivity to the individual needs of their patients and their families.
As a healthcare organization, they aspire to be the hospital of choice in Mohammad Bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi and be recognized for having the most satisfied patients, the best possible clinical outcomes, and the best physicians, specialists and employees.
About Dr El Zaqui Ladha:
Dr. El Zaqui Ladha, Consultant - Bariatric and General Surgery at Bareen International Hospital, at Mohammad Bin Zayed City, who completed his entire medical education at the University of Louvain in Brussels, has been practicing surgery since 1991. He worked in France for 10 years before moving to the Middle East and was ranked among the busiest surgeons in France. Dr. Ladha has been serving in Oman for the last 10 years, before joining Bareen International Hospital, at Mohammad Bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi.
He is one of the founder members of the Gulf Obesity and Metabolic Surgical Society (GOSS), which has Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia as its members.
His major interest lies in advanced laparoscopy. He acquired high-end skills in laparoscopic bile duct surgeries, colectomies for cancer and benign disease of the colon, as also in other classic surgeries such as appendectomies, hernia repair, hiatal hernia, and gallbladder surgery.
In addition, Dr. Ladha is an expert in thyroid surgeries and has served on the consulting panel on thyroid care at the famous Hospital Saint-Luc in Brussels.
He started surgeries for morbid obesity in 1997. He started with the gastric band and then moved to gastric bypass. With time, he added sleeve gastrectomy and gastric plication as well, offering a comprehensive system of bariatric surgery.
Dr. Ladha has successfully conducted more than 2000 bariatric surgeries. Obesity is perceived as a grave public health issue in the UAE owing to its links to diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac disease and more. Hence in cases of morbid obesity, bariatric surgery might be an option to be considered if advised by the clinician.
Dr. Ladha has experience in breast surgeries and is skilled in laser surgeries for hemorrhoids, anal fistulas, pilonidal sinuses among other