ABU DHABI, -- More than 300 local and international multi-discipline specialists on Monday concluded the Daman's Creating Healthy Communities Conference, held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, to discuss how to best promote and improve public health and wellness within the UAE.

Dr Jamal Al Kaabi, member of the board of directors at National Health Insurance Company (Daman), organisers of the one-day event, spoke about the role that Daman has played over the last 10 years, including the continuous efforts made to encourage the UAE community to lead healthy and active lifestyles.

"The Abu Dhabi Plan has included living a healthy lifestyle coupled with world-class medical services as one of its strategic objectives. This conference serves as an ideal platform to showcase success stories from around the world and instigate the discourse for viable solutions in the UAE," Al Kaabi said.

Dr Michael Bitzer, CEO of Daman, explained why it is important for everyone to take ownership of their health and wellbeing and spoke about the various ways in which Daman is involved in helping communities in the UAE get fit.

Mick Cornett, Mayor of Oklahoma City, who in 2008 led a city-wide weight loss drive, which resulted in a phenomenal combined million pound weight loss, said that the first step towards change was to start a conversation about it, before addressing the problem. "This is what this conference is doing, starting the conversation. Like we did in Oklahoma City, the veil on obesity needs to be lifted. It is no longer taboo to talk about it."

Dr Michael Bitzer, Daman CEO, pledged that Daman employees will collectively lose 5000 kilograms in 2017. For a company of 1600 employees, this means an average weight-loss of 3 kilograms per employee.

Dr Claude Marcus, an expert on childhood obesity and endocrinology, explaining the importance of making informed decisions at mealtimes, as healthy choices equals a healthy community.

Jon Duschinsky, who was responsible for initiating and implementing the world-renowned Ice Bucket Challenge, spoke about his experiences and expertise with large-scale behavioural change. In particular, he mentioned some of the existing campaigns to combat childhood obesity from around the world.

Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis and Matt Dyke of AnalogFolk also addressed the gathering, sharing their insights on motivating the youth and using technology to facilitate lifestyle change respectively.

David Hadley, CEO of Mediclinic Middle East and Al Noor Hospitals Group spoke about creating a new medical chapter in the UAE; while Nick Caplain, Chief Development Officer of Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) in the UK, spoke about how we can encourage those with mobility impairments to exercise, using swimming as a gateway sport towards achieving a more active lifestyle.

Source: Emirates News Agency