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Between mansaf and kunafa

Nov 18,2018 - Last updated at Nov 18,2018

On the occasion of the World Diabetes Day, held on November 14 of every year, Director of the National Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Genetics Kamel Ajlouni issued a stern warning to the country on the health of its people by pointing out that Jordanians are among the ten fattest people on Earth.

This is nothing to be proud of, especially when obesity is obviously among the main contributors to diabetes, heart attacks and other human organ failures. Something needs to be done, and fast, to ameliorate this alarming finding. Ajlouni said that 45 per cent of Jordanian above the age of 25 are diabetic or on the brink of being so. 

There is, obviously, a lot that can be done to change this grave health situation in Jordan, beginning with eating less, especially sugary products. What this boils down to is the obvious conclusion that the Jordanian diet, which happens to be rich in sugar, is the culprit.

Jordanians love sweets, especially "kunafa", which is heavy in saturated sugar and fatty substances and when consumed after a "mansaf" it becomes a fast and sure path to early death. Other related illnesses, such as high blood pressure and kidney failure, are often associated with the consumption of sugar. No wonder heart attacks are among the leading causes of death in Jordan among most age groups, but especially among people above the age of 40.

The economic cost of diabetes and related illnesses in Jordan is very high. According to Ajlouni, no less than 20 per cent of the national expenditures are spent on the treatment of diabetes, high blood pressure and other related diseases.

Between the diet of mansaf and kunafa, Jordanians have, indeed, become among the least healthy people in the world, especially when combined with little or no physical exercise. Increasing public awareness is clearly one of the ways to combat this health hazard. It is not going to be easy to change the diet culture of the country, but the government and other stakeholders must try in earnest, especially when one of the enduring sayings of Prophet Mohammad cautioned  "believers" to stay away from the two "whites" in their diet, meaning sugar and salt.

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