The last three months has been nothing short of inspirational for Pakistani national Zahid Hussain. The 39-year-old diabetic toiled hard to significantly bringing down his blood glucose levels and emerged as one of the winners of RAK Diabetes Challenge 2023.
As many as 5,000 UAE residents participated in the 3-month-long challenge, which started on August 18 and primarily aimed at raising awareness.
"I feel like a 22-year-old young man - more energetic and happier," said Hussain, who managed to bring down his HbA1c levels (blood sugar levels) from 10.49 to 6.59 and bagged a Dh5,000-cash prize.
Hussain's routine was simple, yet rigorous. “I worked out for over five hours, altered my diet to low calorie food, included loads of green vegetables, and consumed over six litres of water daily."
The shipping professional in Ras Al Khaimah stuck to his regime and organically lost weight. "I was 88kg at the beginning of the challenge, and now, after losing 15kg, I weigh 73kg,” added Hussain.
“I am determined to continue this routine and try to drop my HbA1c levels even further,” said Hussain, adding that his family supported him immensely.
Another participant who brought his sugar level down was Inam ul Hassan, a Ras Al Khaimah resident and a startup's CFO. He moved to the UAE two years ago after spending over 25 years in Australia.
“My HbA1c level in August was around 12, and I was able to bring it down to 8.9 at the end of this competition,” said Hassan.
The 54-year-old expat controlled his diet and sleep pattern to achieve it. “I consumed more vegetables and greens, used fewer spices in my food, and slept well. I carried my workouts at home and preferred to walk more,” said Hassan.
“It is a great initiative to make residents healthy and fit,” said Hassan.
The challenge aims to instil lifestyle changes, focusing on dietary adjustments and regular exercise for effective diabetes management. The award ceremony was graced by. Khalid Abdulla Mohammed AlShehhi, director, Representative Office, Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) – Ras Al Khaimah.
There were competitions in three categories—Physical, Virtual, and Corporate—the participants engaged in a 12-week challenge culminating on World Diabetes Day on November 14.
Participants showcased significant improvement in HbA1c levels, with an average reduction from 8.60 to 6.50, accompanied by an average weight loss of 5 kg.
Sapana Joshi Chattani Prakash, a 42-year-old Dubai resident and a teacher by profession emerged as the female category winner bagging the cash prize of Dh5,000 with an HbA1c reduction from 8.85 to 6.5.
The second and third prize winners in both male and female categories received cash prizes of Dh3,000 and Dh2,000, respectively.
In the virtual category, Vinod Kumar Sasidharanasan and Rejeena Saji emerged as winners in the male and female categories receiving gift vouchers from various sponsors including staycations in 5-star properties and gym memberships, among other exciting rewards. Additionally, the top 10 participants from across all categories received a complimentary RAK Hospital Swiss Health Check Voucher worth Dh1,500 each.
Dr Raza Siddiqui, executive director, RAK Hospital, said that the diabetes challenge is a huge leap towards leading society from illness to wellness. “With almost 100 per cent of participants registering above their normal healthy weight range, these statistics underscore the direct correlation between weight and diabetes,” said Dr Siddiqui.
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