Is your wealth damaging your health?

Health UAE

Improved wealth is associated with a lot of things – better cars, bigger houses, and improved lifestyles. But in the UAE, the lifestyle enjoyed by the wealthy might actually be having a negative effect on health.

According to a new study from the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, those earning over $5,300 per month in the UAE are “significantly” more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases than those earning $1,300 per month.

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The study brings into sharp relief the contrast between high-earners in the UAE and high-earners in other countries. In most developed economies, earning less is often associated with poorer health, while in the UAE, according to this study, more wealth can be associated with health problems.

How can this be? Well, according to one of the study’s authors, Dr Alawi Alsheikh-Ali, it’s down to the fact that wealthier people in the UAE tend to lead a more sedentary lifestyle. He told The National that wealthier residents saw higher rates of diabetes and obesity, and were more at risk of coronary artery disease as a result.

What to make of all this

Now, none of this is to say that, if you earn more, you’ll automatically start gaining weight. Nor does it say that, if you’re earning less, you’ll shed fat like no-one’s business. It does, however, serve as a warning about how you spend your disposable income.

If, for example, you’re wealthy enough to visit a new five-star restaurant every few days, and enjoy a three-course meal at each, that probably isn’t doing any favours for your health. Likewise, if you’re a low-income office worker who commutes on the Dubai Metro and only eats healthy, home-cooked food packed with vegetables (because vegetables are cheap), you’re probably going to be pretty healthy.

Even if you don’t eat out often, high-earners do tend to move about less. A typical high-earner will likely be working in an office, sitting down for most of the day. Combine that with driving everywhere, and you have a lifestyle that doesn’t include much movement.

Now, you may be on a low salary and still have a desk job, but if you’re commuting on the Metro or bus, it’s likely you’ll have had to walk to a bus stop or a station, meaning you’re at least keeping a little active throughout the day.

What to do

If you’re a high-earner but you’ve noticed yourself becoming less healthy, things should be easy to fix. You simply need to eat better, and make more of a conscious effort to be more active. Given you’re a high earner, you can probably afford to sign up for a gym, or at least find the time to drive over to the Palm Running Track a few times a week for a couple of laps.

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It could also be worth creating a budget to see how much money you’re spending on unhealthy activities. Do you often go out for big nights out? Do you order takeaway a lot? Once you can see how much money goes on these things, it may make you realise that changing your lifestyle will not only result in better health, but improved wealth, too.

And, once you start making changes, you may find that you’re able to save money previously spent on dining and entertainment, and put it into a savings account. It’s a win-win on all fronts, really.

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