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WALK 2015 sees tens of thousands from Abu Dhabi community get more active

Twenty-one thousand participate in today’s annual health awareness WALK event at Yas Marina Circuit, a culmination of weeks of community walking and activities, to raise awareness of diabetes on the same weekend as World Diabetes Day

New data from participants shows Abu Dhabi younger population is getting more active regularly compared to last year’s event


Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi took a giant step towards embracing healthy living today as more than 21,000 people joined WALK 2015 at Yas Marina Circuit. 

Thousands of people turned the Formula 1® circuit into a sea of blue & white WALK 2015 t-shirts as they paced around the 5.5-kilometre track and took part in a series of fun interactive events in the WALK 2015 village including live family fun shows, fitness sports challenges, healthy cooking stations and music including DJ UNK and DJ Montay performing their hit single and WALK 2015’s campaign theme, “Walk It Out.”

Now in its ninth year, the UAE’s largest and longest-running public health initiative encourages participants to be active and live healthily, and informs them about lifestyle-related health issues including diabetes. The aim of the Walk is to instil healthy practices among the entire population with a legacy that lasts beyond just this weekend.

Statistics calculated on the day showed that WALK 2015 attendees had an average BMI of 25.5 with females averaging 26.8 and males averaging 24.4. This compares to figures gathered at WALK 2014, which showed an average BMI of 25.8 among walkers with females 25.1 and males 26.7.

WALK 2015 also delivered younger audiences than 2014 with 54 per cent of attendees aged between 16-35, with an average BMI of 23 for those aged 16-15 and 25.1 for those aged between 26-35. Only 15 per cent of WALK2014 members were between this age group. 

His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD), said: “Supporting today’s WALK is just one of the ways we actively play a part in what we advocate. HAAD’s vision is seeing us work towards a healthier Abu Dhabi by adopting the ‘prevention is better than treatment’ mindset. Today’s record attendance proves that people in the UAE are taking their health seriously and are eagerly seeking ways to get active, be fit and lead by example. 

“WALK is a vital part of our mission to shed light on priority health issues, including diabetes. We would like to extend a big thank you to our valued partners in making this event a possibility, and of course to all the people who joined us today.”

WALK 2015 kicked off on Friday afternoon with a host of bustling live entertainment held in the run up to the main walkathon. DJ UNK and DJ Montay warmed up the crowd with tracks including their hit single and WALK 2015’s campaign theme ‘Walk It Out’.

There were also cooking stations serving up nutritious meals and plenty of important health information from organisers Imperial College London Diabetes Center and HAAD, as well as Imperial College London Diabetes Center’s Mubadala sister healthcare facilities Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and Healthpoint.

Prof. Dr. Maha Taysir Barakat, Director General of HAAD added: “We are delighted to see people enthusiastically take charge of their health and join in on fun, educational and entertaining events such as this one. To live a healthy lifestyle and reduce chances of developing a lifestyle-related disease, we need to eat right and be physically active. After such a great turnout today, we’re already eager to see what the participation will be like for next year’s WALK!” 

Earlier in the day, there was a chance to learn about nutrition and healthy eating at the HealthX knowledge exchange forum. Hosted by Imperial College London Diabetes Centre and Yas Marina Circuit, and supported by HAAD, the event brought together leading figures from the world of health, fitness and nutrition to give a series of talks on the theme ‘Nutrition From All Angles’. 

Suhail Mahmood Al Ansari, Executive Director at Mubadala Healthcare and Chairman of ICLDC, said: “WALK 2015 has been a fantastic opportunity to reach out directly to the Abu Dhabi community on the importance of being active and eating well. 

“Today, tens of thousands of people did what we advise the entire community to be doing on a daily basis. A 30-minute walk each day can make a big difference in preventing and managing diabetes.

“WALK and HealthX are crucial aspects of our education outreach and we were delighted to see so many individuals, families and organisations getting active in a fun way. I encourage people to keep up the good habits that we all practised today and keep walking regularly throughout the year.”

Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, said: “We would like to thank everyone who joined us at WALK 2015 and helped make today such a big success. We would also like to congratulate our partners Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, HAAD and other key supporters for their work in making the ninth edition of WALK the most active yet.

“There is a growing movement towards fitness and healthy living in the UAE and we’re proud to be contributing to that trend by hosting events like this alongside our weekly StartYAS, TrainYAS and GoYAS programmes.

“We wish everyone to join us in the spirit of exercise, good diet and healthy living and look forward to seeing the community unite again at WALK 2016.”