Health insurance policies are a fat lot of good to people in the UAE who may be obese since insurers have begun clamping down on claims if they think the claimant contributed to their own poor health.
This growing issue is also affecting expats living and working in the United Arab Emirates who are also, it is claimed, getting fatter during their stay there.
Obesity is already a major issue for Emiratis and figures show that 67% of men and 72% of women are classed as overweight.
Now, experts are saying that the number of obese expats could triple in the next 10 years.
Fears are rising that obesity could overtake smoking in the UAE as the main cause of preventable deaths.
This concern is now having a major influence on the Emirate’s private health care provision with providers minimising claims from those who may be overweight and who contribute to their ill health.
Those people seeking private health insurance in the UAE are now facing the same difficulties which smokers have had to deal with in recent years in finding adequate private medical cover without having to pay higher premiums and having limited access to some treatments.
The situation in the UAE follows that of health services around the world, especially in Europe, which are tightening up on their rules for health care provision for smokers, drinkers and the obese.
Dr Fuad Ahmed, a consultant specialising in obesity surgery, said expats faced having to work long hours, eat more junk food and live in a climate which discourages outdoor exercise.
His views were echoed by dietician Rashi Chowdhary who says she is seeing double the number of expats to her weight loss since two years ago.
She said that UAE’s sedentary lifestyle was to blame along with the lack of time for expats to exercise.
Mrs Chowdhary also pointed to high stress levels and a lack of sleep as being among the causes.
She said: “Some expats are putting on weight even though they are consuming less than their daily calorific intake limit but they have a poor nutritional quality of food when they should be looking at a diet with good fats, quality protein and slow carbohydrates which will help increase the nutrients they consume which will increase the amount of fat we burn.”
Experts say that expats should be careful in their first six months of living and working in the UAE until they get used to the relaxed lifestyle since it is easy to put weight on but very difficult to lose it.