LAHORE: Fifty percent of population in Pakistan is found to be obese that is a major cause of diabetes, as revealed in the latest scientific survey on obesity conducted across Pakistan. “This real-time research survey provides the most reliable data on prevalence of obesity in Pakistan, therefore, should serve as a call for action for it leaves country’s half of population vulnerable to diabetes,” said Hayatabad Medical Complex Professor Dr AH Amir from Peshawar, while sharing the findings of scientific data on obesity during a three-day 5th Annual Mid-Summer Endocrine Symposium held under the auspices of Pakistan Endocrine Society (PES). He informed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has set different guidelines on Body Mass Index (BMI) for global population and South Asia. For global population, WHO calculates numeral 25 for normal BMI, 25 to 30 for overweight, 30 to 35 for obesity class-I, 35 to 40 for obesity class-II and 40 or above BMI for obesity class-III population. Whereas, WHO sets stricter BMI standards for South Asian countries, which set numeral 23 for normal BMI, 23 to 27.5 for overweight, 27.5 to 32.5 for obesity class-I, 32.5 to 37.5 for obesity class-II and with 37.5 or above BMI among obesity class-III population. Considering WHO’s guidelines on BMI for South Asia a benchmark, this real-time research survey has been conducted on 18,856 subjects in all parts of the country according to required medical standards for such scientific surveys. It reveals startling figures of 29 percent of population overweight, 31 percent among obesity class-I, 13 percent of them in obesity class-II and seven percent among obesity class-III categorisation, which suggests half of country’s population obese. The prevalence of obesity in the world is 19 percent fewer than Pakistan as 31 percent of world’s population is obese with 35 percent of them being overweight, 20 percent among obesity class-I, seven percent of them in obesity class-II and 4 percent among obesity class-III categorisation. Professor Dr AH Amir further said that endocrinology is primitive and less understood speciality in Pakistan and therefore not many people are trained in this field of medicine. “Endocrinology is 90 percent diabetes and with every fifth or sixth person being a sugar patient suggests the scale of diabetes in Pakistan and thus, the importance and need of Endocrinologists in Pakistan,” he said, adding that diabetes was the main contributor of heart diseases, 50 percent of kidney diseases and 50 percent of blindness. With these alarming factors, he regretted that there were merely about 60 endocrinologists in Pakistan with not a single endocrinologist in Balochistan. PES launched an awareness campaign for prevention of gestational diabetes. At least, one in every 10 women is living with diabetes and many do not have access to education, treatment and care. As gestational diabetes takes its toll among pregnant women and resultantly, one in every seven births is affected by gestational diabetes. Therefore, the endocrine experts emphasised to protect the health of mother and child by improving access to screening, care and education. PES President Professor Dr Ali Jawa said that this mid-summer symposium, followed by annual conference earlier held in Lahore, was an opportunity for young doctors and trainees to get familiar with latest advancements in endocrinology. He said that PES had taken annual conferences in big cities and mid-summer symposiums to smaller cities to create awareness among doctors in particular and public at large. “The people in smaller cities usually neither have resources nor access to specialised care such as endocrinology so such symposiums provide an opportunity to local people to interact with specialists in the field,” he added. With Ramazan just round the corner, he said that PES has organised a special session on Ramazan & Diabetes with local community to inform them about management of the disease during Ramazan. “The doctors, while keeping in mind the injunctions of Islam, might advise the sugar patients to skip the fast. As fasting can cause dehydration – a condition in which drugs become reactive and not taking medicines is not an option,” the experts explained. The South Asian Federation of Endocrine Societies (SAFES) President Dr S Abbas Raza said that SAFES initiative of Run for a Healthy Life had been launched with a five-kilometre walk from Donga Gali to Nathia Gali in which men and women of all ages and children participated. “It was a huge success in serving the purpose of creating awareness about healthy lifestyle among the local community,” he added. Furthermore, he said that SAFES guidelines on prevention, treatment, management and care of diabetes had been published in a journal, which was also launched during the symposium. Published in Daily Times, May 8th 2018.