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Walk 2014 Survey Gives First-Time Insights Into Body Mass Index Of Community

13 Nov 2014
Abu Dhabi


Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (‘ICLDC’) today shared Body Mass Index (BMI) and other health related activity data collected from participants at WALK 2014, sponsored by National Health Insurance Company – Daman revealing a useful snapshot of health and fitness in the UAE community.

More than 4,000 of the 21,000 participants at the recent Walk 2014 event at Yas Marina Circuit took part in an online survey geared to provide insights into the average Body Mass Index (BMI) of the community, according to the event organiser, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre.

Dubbed the 'Big Data' project, the survey is a joint initiative from ICLDC, Daman and Yas Marina Circuit created to provide information to help track levels of activity and health for use by the community. An online Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator was filled in by Walk 2014 participants, alongside details of activity levels providing one of the first such baselines. BMI scores indicate whether an individual’s weight is appropriate for one’s height. Generally, the higher the BMI score, the greater the risk of medical problems related to being overweight or obese.

Survey results show that 55 per cent of respondents were female representing a group average BMI of 24.6. This comes in at just under the high end of 'acceptable' BMI, at 25. A BMI of over 25 begins to raise caution, as it is considered 'overweight'. BMI scores above 30 is considered 'obese'

Meanwhile, 45 per cent of males surveyed revealed an average BMI of 26.6, a score that suggests a higher than recommended body weight, noting that this group also cited engagement in a regular high-intensity fitness practice.

The survey participants represented 93 different nationalities, mainly from the Philippines, India, UK, USA, along with UAE nationals and expatriate Arabs from the Levant and North Africa.

A trend noticed is that the higher the age, the higher the BMI score, with the 20-30 year old participants registering an average BMI of 24.4, whereas the 55- to 60-year old respondents averaged out at 28.1, although this number dropped for people aged 60 and above.

The survey also suggests that exercise frequency appears to increase with age. Among the participants in the survey, the number of calories burnt per week peaked with the 50-year old age group but dropped for those above 60. The figures suggest that people tend to follow similar exercise over their life spans, with only the frequency of exercise changing. This data applies to both men and women, however men are recorded as exercising more than the females surveyed.

Yas Marina Circuit's TrainYAS members registered a similar BMI to those of non-members, however there are significantly fewer outliers such as being extremely thin or obese among TrainYAS members.

"The 'Big Data' metrics collection initiative is considered the first-ever mass snapshot of lifestyle habits in the community," said Dr Saf Naqvi, Medical Director of ICLDC.

"The data provided by such a diverse cross-section of WALK 2014 participants provides an invaluable baseline on the community's health and overall exercise activity practice. One of our goals is to encourage active lifestyles as one way of helping to prevent the onset of diabetes. The data gained from this survey is an important indication of lifestyle habits and not only helps to inform longer term planning strategies for our public health awareness campaigns, but also helps raise awareness for the daily activities all of us can do to live a healthy, active life," he added.

"The 'Big Data' project has proved to be very successful, and more importantly, very useful once we analyze it from a medical perspective," said Dr Michael Bitzer, CEO of Daman. "The collection of information on how we live, how often we exercise and other biometric data will be key as we move forward in transitioning towards a reduction in chronic health conditions attributed to a lack of activity. At Daman, we are committed to improving peoples' wellbeing which is a core part of our strategy

Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, said: "As home to WALK 2014, as well as our regular community health and fitness initiatives such as TrainYAS and GoYAS that people can attend for free, the team at Yas Marina Circuit is very pleased to have been involved in this important project that informs more deeply our understanding of activity and exercise habits in the UAE. The initial metrics are the first of many and we will continue to help our partners grow the information base so we can contribute to future health planning."

What is BMI?
The Body Mass Index (or BMI) allows you to see if your weight is appropriate for your height. The actual calculation takes your weight divided by your height squared and it's also easy to read on a BMI chart. BMI can be divided into several categories but generally the higher your BMI, the greater your risk of a large range of medical problems.

BMI charts are generally calculated for adults only (although there are separate charts are available for children's weight and heights). Differences can also occur if you are an athlete or very muscular as this can give you a higher BMI even if you have a healthy level of body fat. Also, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or people who are very frail should not use this method of calculation.

BMI – At A Glance
BMI is based on your height and weight. It's one way to see if you're at a healthy weight.
Underweight: BMI is less than 18.5
Healthy weight: BMI is 18.5 to 24.9

Overweight: BMI is 25 to 29.9
Obese: BMI is 30 or higher

Disclaimer: Results set out in this press release are based on an analysis undertaken by Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, National Insurance Company – Daman, and Yas Marina Circuit on the results of the Body Mass Index Survey undertaken with participants of WALK 2014.

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