Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, and 'Mother of the UAE', the 13th edition of the UAE's most popular Walkathon, WALK 2019, yesterday saw Emiratis and expats of all ages and fitness levels completing the 5km circuit at Yas Marina in the capital to boost awareness about diabetes and healthy lifestyle choices.
The WALK is organised annually around World Diabetes Day by Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, and is supported by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Public Health Center, the Department of Community Development – Abu Dhabi, as well as ICLDC’s fellow Mubadala Healthcare providers Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and Healthpoint.
Commenting on the successful event, ICLDC CEO Lawrence Patrick said: "Public Health is one of the most important parts of the ICLDC mission and we are proud to have the longest-running public health awareness campaign in the country. Moreover, Public Health is also one of the most rewarding features of our community outreach and events like today’s WALK and the Weight Loss Challenge initiative we celebrated make the ideals we strive for tangible.
"ICLDC and all of our fellow Mubadala Healthcare providers continue to stress that prevention is better than cure, and we believe initiatives like this will have a significant impact on population health."
Eng. Abdulla Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, Head of Mubadala Healthcare, said: "We are again gratified to see such public enthusiasm for this wellness initiative from people of all walks of life. It is their support, along with that of our distinguished partners, that has made the WALK such a popular fixture on the Abu Dhabi calendar.
"This is the 13th walkathon, with interest increasing every year, meaning that thousands upon thousands of people have heard and shared the message about the vital role that wise lifestyle choices play in the future health of our population."
WALK 2019 is part of ICLDC’s award-winning campaign ‘Diabetes.Knowledge.Action‘, which stresses the importance of regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and following a balanced diet in the battle against diabetes.
Matar Al Nuaimi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, said: "WALK 2019 is in line with ADPHC priorities and efforts in promoting the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle in the Emirate and instilling the culture of prevention as a way of life among the Abu Dhabi community especially that it raises awareness about a very serious issue such as diabetes. We hope that for the people who joined the event today, this will inspire them to continue walking regularly and helping them to prevent and manage diabetes."
There are over 1 million people living with diabetes in the UAE, and the country has been ranked 15th worldwide for age-adjusted comparative prevalence. Diabetes is also a regional affliction, with several of the UAE’s neighbours also featuring in the top 20 countries in terms of prevalence worldwide.
Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of Community Engagement and Sports at the Department of Community Development – Abu Dhabi said: "The WALK embodies the values that we at the Department cherish of a society that is active and responsible, and which are promoted through initiatives that encourage the spirit of community participation, cohesion and harmony with the various community segments.
"WALK 2019 is a community event that aims to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle through physical activity and sustainable health habits. The Department of Community Development is always keen to adopt effective practices that improve society’s awareness of various social issues and challenges."
WALK 2019 also included an awards ceremony for the Weight Loss Challenge, an ICLDC initiative in partnership with Abu Dhabi Police. This was the culmination of the six-month challenge that saw a total of 700 employees from 20 UAE companies participate in healthy weight loss programs. The prizes were awarded based on most weight lost by an individual, and by company staff.
In addition to these events, WALK 2019 hosted a range of family friendly and health-orientated activities including a DJ, fitness instructors, a climbing wall, trampolines and inflatable activities, nutritional cooking displays, fitness sessions and arts and crafts for children.
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