“The National Obesity Treatment Center was opened in 2017 in support of the goals outlined in Qatar’s National Health Strategy and specifically in recognition of Qatar’s commitment to providing effective, evidence-based solutions for the prevention of weight-related diseases. The centre was established to deliver holistic, multidisciplinary care for patients in need of medical management, lifestyle modifications, bariatric, and endoscopic procedures,” said Professor Shahrad Taheri, Senior Consultant, National Obesity Treatment Center, who is also Chair of the Research Committee at HMC’s Qatar Metabolic Institute (QMI) and a Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar.
“Year on year we have expanded our patient care services, and last year we recorded nearly 12,000 patient visits, making the National Obesity Treatment Center one of the largest facilities of its kind in the world. We have also introduced an adolescent service for patients aged 14 years and above and a service to care for patients with special needs,” added Professor Taheri.
Professor Taheri explains that in addition to serious medical problems, teen obesity can create social and psychological issues for young people. He says children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for weight-related adult health problems such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis, underscoring the importance of the adolescent service.
“Individuals with a BMI greater than 30, which approximates to 30 pounds of excess weight, are at risk of developing serious health problems. Once an individual understands what factors are contributing to weight gain, a healthcare professional can help them set appropriate weight loss goals. Our adolescent service is the county’s only medically-supervised weight management program that caters to this age group,” noted Professor Taheri.
“The causes of obesity are complex. There may be many interrelated factors, such as genetics, lifestyle, diet, underlying health conditions, and how an individual’s body uses energy. Understanding and making lifestyle changes isn’t always easy but our team has extensive experience in the areas of weight loss and weight management and our programs are tailored to the individual needs of our patients,” added Professor Taheri.
Professor Taheri says the National Obesity Treatment Center has also introduced a Diabetes Reversal Clinic centred on research published in the prestigious Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology Journal.
“The research study, which was led by teams at HMC’s QMI, Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), Qatar Diabetes Association (QDA), and Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q), and was funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), found that Type 2 diabetes could be reversed in more than 60% of participants through dietary change, physical activity, and behavior change, and without medication or weight loss surgery,” said Professor Taheri.
“The study proved it is possible to reverse diabetes through lifestyle modification and that this course of treatment results in a better outcome than diabetes medications or bariatric surgery. The establishment of these clinics is also a milestone in that they are the first of their kind in the region,” added Professor Taheri.
Professor Taheri says the goal of obesity treatment is to reach and stay at a healthy weight. He says maintaining a healthy weight improves one’s overall health and lowers the risk of developing complications related to obesity.
“Residents of Qatar are fortunate in that the National Obesity Treatment Center is unique. Education about obesity is a core part of our programs and helps many patients not only better understand their condition but also feel more empowered to take control and stick to the treatment plan. The National Obesity Treatment Center has been a trailblazer in providing what is arguably the region’s best obesity care and support,” said Professor Taheri.