Two young Saudi doctors have found a unique way to encourage healthy lifestyles during the month of Ramadan and beyond, with a program they launched a social media campaign complete with YouTube videos featuring two young male participants, named Adel and Imad, who want to shed some weight.
Recent data shows around seven in ten Saudis are overweight. Dr. Rayyan Kardakan and Dr. Oubay al-Bashir, both from Jeddah, spoke about their initiative on Al Arabiya’s morning show, Sabah al Arabiya.
“Last year, Oubay and I launched a similar initiative with a small group of patients and it was a successful experience. So we decided to expand our experience and share it on Twitter and Facebook. Our program is a reality show: any viewer can relate with Adel or Imad and change his lifestyle just like they did,” Dr. Kardakan said.
In a segment of the show, Dr. Oubay informed Adel and Imad that together they did not just lose a joint weight of 10 kilos, but over two tons. The doctors clarified that such weight was the accumulation of others following their progress on YouTube, and the Twitter hashtag, ‘Mizan’, which means scale in Arabic.
“We created the hashtag as part of the program. People have really interacted, and they encouraged each other so that no one felt alone on this journey. With the show, the hashtag membership grew larger. You’ve seen in the last episode that 563 people participated in the hashtag and lost weight during Ramadan, in addition to those who did not participate in the hashtag. I believe that this was an amazing step that reveals the size of participation,” Dr. Bashir said.
Dr. Kardakan said it wasn’t easy finding an appropriate participant, because weight problems are a sensitive issue which most people usually avoid sharing in public.
“Imad and Adel were really courageous to share their weight problems and suffering with the public and to encourage people to help them find a solution,” he said.
The doctors also suggest workout alternatives and admit that everyone slips and indulges while on a disciplined health regimen. They said their main goal is to spread awareness, and social networking sites have been proving its effectiveness.
“It is not a competition and it is not about counting the lost kilos. We were actually trying to adjust the lifestyle of our patients and help them adopt a healthier lifestyle and show people the right thing to do when dealing with their health,” Dr. Kardakan said.
Following the success of the show, it is anticipated that another season will follow, as the doctors hope the Twitter hashtag initiative remains active even now Ramadan has finished for this year.