Daya Dewfall

Daya Dewfall has 7 articles published.

Let’s fight Obesity….

in Health & Beauty

Obesity is a complex problem with multiple causes and considerable implications for health.

The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is the imbalance of energy between calories consumed and calories expended. This leads to abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may result in a raised basal metabolic index (BMI), a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and several cancers.

Obesity is also associated with difficulties carrying out daily activities and many other health conditions. 

Read more:

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975; and in 2020, 39 million children under the age of 5 years were overweight or obese. Studies show that the vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries, where the rate of increase has been more than 30% higher than that of developed countries

Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood. Furthermore, obese children are more likely to experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and psychological issues.

The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced peoples’ lifestyles in some way or other. Many people have put on weight because of comfort eating, snacking, and more time spent at home due to restrictions. However, the pandemic has also allowed time for reflection, encouraging people to think about what really matters to them – family, friends, and health.

Public Health England’s ‘Better Health’ campaign returns in January 2022 with positive messages to motivate us to take action and improve our health.

The latest Health and Lifestyle Survey in Gibraltar showed that 82% of people eat less than five portions of fruit and veg per day. 

A balanced diet with plenty veggies and fruit (fresh, frozen or canned) all count! Consider adding these to stew, soups, smoothies, sauces etc. 

Portion sizes are directly related to our weight and health; and there is no one size fits all when it comes to portion size or food type. Taller or more active people will require larger portions; and shorter or less active people will require smaller portions.

It is also important to be mindful of food groups (for instance, an apple may count as one portion of fruit, but a handful of butter would count as several portions of fat).  

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Physical activity is good for your body and mind. 

A short daily activity of 20 minutes (e.g. a brisk walk/cycle/swim; gardening, dancing…) can boost your energy and lift your mood. Regardless of age, research shows that being physically active can help towards living a healthier, happier and potentially longer life.

For more information on healthy eating and physical activity visit 

PHE’s Better Health Campaign prompts us to:

• take small simple steps

• work towards a healthier self

• use evidence based tools and resources online; be it to lose weight, quit smoking or increase activity levels.

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Dry your January

in Health & Beauty

The Dry January – a month free of alcohol campaign started in 2013 with 4,000 people taking part. The movement has continued to grow with around 130,000
taking part in 2021. 

Many of us drink to relax, socialise or celebrate. However, before we know it, alcohol can become a part of our everyday lives in a way that it starts to harm our bodies. Drinking above the low risk level of 14 units a week is linked with more than 60 health conditions, including liver disease, high blood pressure, skin changes, weight gain, depression, several types of cancer and many more. When this habit becomes a problem, serious consequences can ensue and many others including family and friends are affected. 

According to research published in 2018, a month off alcohol lowers blood pressure and cholesterol; and reduces diabetes risk as well as the levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood. The real magic happens when Dry January is over. A study from the University of Sussex, during and after Dry January 2019, conducted three self-completed online surveys at the start of the challenge, at the end and 6 months later. Around two thirds of the participants reported generally improved health, slept better and had more energy; and over half had lost weight and could concentrate better.

Alcohol Change UK’s Try Dry app is your booze-free buddy for Dry January and beyond, helping you keep track of your units, calories and money saved and letting you earn badges along the way. The app also helps you track your drinking and set personalised goals all year round. 

For Dry January testimonials:

Read more on alcohol and its effects: 

Remember, if you feel better on the inside, you are bound to feel better on the outside. See your skin get brighter, your wallet fuller, and your days busier. Feel your step get bouncier and your mind calmer…

For the Merriest time of the year

in Features

For the merriest time of year, Christmas can sometimes create a perfect storm of stress. The combination of too much spending, over-indulging, the proximity to (or absence of) family members, seasonal weather changes and many other factors can become overwhelming. Furthermore, the year of much uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and anxieties about our health, finances and futures may cast a shadow over the festive season.

However, it is important to keep the spirit of the festive Christmas season and focus on spending quality time with families and friends andnurturing ourselves.

Some top tips for a safe and healthy season:

Disconnect to reconnect

If you are off work, switch off from work!Even if you are used to working from home and accessing your work at any time, avoid the temptation of reaching for your laptop during your annual leave.

Reaching for our phones is almost compulsive; but doing absolutely nothing at all is actually good for our brains. Research shows that when we are ‘unfocused’ (i.e.daydreaming or doodling) our brain activity increases, allowing us to process thoughts and memories.

Avoid long periods of watching TV or engagement with social media. Short periods can provide entertainment and connect you to a wider community, but too much time is seen to interrupt sleep and affect mood.

Embrace the quiet moments and be present-stop looking for the next thing to do!


Mulled wines, festive cocktails, any kind of alcohol, can cause chronic dehydration. Drinking tea/ coffee to access will have the same effect.Try to get into the habit of drinking a glass of water when you wake up every morning before doing anything else. A cup of warm water with a dash of lemon and honey is an option. It is good to drink a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks too.

The aim is drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day. 

Give your digestive system a break; consume consciously!

Digestion starts in the brain. Seeing/ smelling food causes the release of enzymes that aid digestion. Chewing food properly allows you to savour the taste whilst reducing your stomach’s workload. Humans cannot effectively digest foods when in a state of stress, our bodies cannot absorb nutrients as efficiently; often, as a result, we consume empty calories that then cause us to crave moreenergy dense foods.

If you find you like to indulge in ‘junk’ foods, be mindful of your digestive system!Fried and processed foods containing lots of sugar and ‘bad’ fats are the worst offenders for cell damage. Eat natural foods as far as possible (i.e. fresh fruits and veg, wholegrains…).

Try to plan your meals bearing this in mind and make sure to avoid late night snacking; also allowing for a 12-hour break from eating/drinking to facilitate digestion and cell repair.

Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls; this will encourage you to slow down.

Move more

Your lymphatic system is your body’s waste removal system; it requires movement to eliminate the toxins your body is constantly processing. Exercise is vital to shift these toxins. 

Dancing, sprinting, power walking have manybenefits, as do many other forms of exercise. Other ways to move your lymphatic system include dry skin brushing, massage and relaxing in a bath.

Less doing and more being! 

Take the time to spend 10 minutes a day to nurture yourself or just be on your own, simply enjoying being rather than doing. Scheduling a few minutes for yourself daily will prompt the release of calming hormones like serotonin and help you cope with festive frictions.

Connecting with nature, perhaps on a walk, is another way to reduce depression/ anxiety and lower blood pressure.

Try Box Breathing to create a sense of Calm – breath in for 4, hold for 4, breath out for 4, hold for 4. Repeat 5 -10 times.

Practice daily gratitude

Studies show that writing down things you are grateful for every day increases happiness levels, decreases stress and even boosts the immune system!

Leave a notepad by your bed and jot down three different things every day that you are grateful for – aim for 21 consistent days and see how you feel…

Don’t overspend

Overspending is common at Christmas, and it is often a result of external pressure from family, social media, friends and even children!Financial problems can have a huge impact on health, wellbeing and personal relationships. 

Some practical tips for avoiding overspending at Christmas:

• Set a budget.

• Make a list of people you want to buy gifts for with ideas for gifts (this will help prevent impulse purchases).

• Shop around for deals.

• Resist the urge to borrow money.

• Make some gifts instead of buying them all.

• Ask friends and family to buy you charitable gifts as far as possible

• Talk to your children/family about the reality of money and the pandemic situation.

The most valuable thing anyone can ever give is their time.Doing something for a friend or stranger, volunteering, making a present, completing random acts of kindness or merely taking the time to genuinely thank someone will strengthen relationships and create positive experiences. 

Think before you light 

A Public Health Perspective on Fireworks

Fireworks are a beautiful way to mark celebratory events – National Day and New Year’s Eve are just two occasions we may enjoy a visual treat. However, it is important to be mindful of the potential health impacts of such displays, particularly if you are conducting your own. 

Fireworks and bonfires can increase circulating particulate matter (also known as particle pollution) that affects air quality, visibility and health, during and after the events.

Inhalation of particulate matter and smoke can lead to a worsening of several health conditions, including:

respiratory illnesses, such as colds, allergies or coughs, asthma, COPD, pneumonia, laryngitis etc.

• cardiovascular disease

• eye related problems

• headaches

(Pregnant women, children, elderly people and those with pre-existing health conditions are particularly vulnerable to health effects associated with exposure to firework related emissions).

Metals such as barium and aluminium used to give fireworks colour can damage human and animal cells; others like lead, titanium, strontium, and copper commonly found in fireworks are much more toxic than the pollutants we breathe every day.

Keep a safe distance from any firework zones (10 – 20 metres recommended)

Some fireworks can be loud and can exceed 140 decibels (studies show that noise above 85 decibels can damage hearing). Increase in the sound levels can lead to restlessness, temporary or permanent hearing loss, high blood pressure, mood disruptions and sleep disturbance.

Burns are reportedly the most common firework injury with head/neck, hands, fingers, arms, and legs being common sites of injury. Injuries affecting the eyes, including the presence of foreign bodies are also common. The types of fireworks that cause the most injuries are firecrackers, sparklers and bottle rockets. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals- young children often suffer injuries from sparklers. It is therefore crucial to ensure to keep a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

Always have an adult supervise firework activities. 

Loud noises and sudden flashes of bright light from fireworks easily frighten animals. Pets are particularly vulnerable. Common reactions in dogs include freezing or paralysis, uncontrolled attempts to escape and hide, and tremors. Other more intense signs may also be present, such as salivation, tachycardia, intense vocalizations, urination or defecation, increased activity, hyper-alertness and gastrointestinal disorders. 

Birds are also affected; the noise and pollution can lead to abandonment of nests or even whole colonies.

World Diabetes day

in Features

World Diabetes Day (WDD) is marked annually on 14th November, the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922. 

The campaign aims to drive global efforts to promote the importance of taking coordinated and concerted actions to confront diabetes as a critical global health issue. 

The theme for WDD 2021-23 is: Access to Diabetes Care – If Not Now, When?

Diabetes is a serious, potentially debilitating and life-threatening non-communicable disease that affects individuals and their families. Without adequate support, people with type 2 diabetes are at risk of serious and life-threatening complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and lower-limb amputation.

Gibraltar is said to be facing a “diabetes crisis”, with around one in four people aged over 55 having been diagnosed with diabetes. Registered local charity ‘Diabetes Gibraltar’ highlight there are around 3000 people currently registered with type 2 diabetes on the Rock. Sedentary lifestyles and poor diet greatly influencing this growing number…

Recent studies also indicate that people living with diabetes are susceptible to the worst complications of Covid-19; particularly those aged over 65 years and those with uncontrolled diabetes. 

Services in Gibraltar include:

• The GHA Diabetes Clinic at the Primary Care Centre.

• Diabetes Gibraltar (Email:, Tel: 20072420) 

Join Diabetes Gibraltar for their awareness event on Saturday 13th November outside the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned from 10am -2pm. A walk has also been organised on Sunday 14th starting at 11am from Casemates – registration for the walk can be done online though Diabetes Gibraltar or from 9:30 am on the day. 

Funds raised will go toward purchasing of a clinic based HbA1c analyser, which will allow children to have their three monthly blood sugar control checked with a finger prick, rather than having a regular blood test.

World Vegetarian day – 1st October 2021

in Features

This annual event, which began in 1977, encourages everyone to try a meat
free meal – even for a day. The benefits of having meat free days in the week are numerous, which is why our local Conscious Eating initiative supports and encourages such events.

Stay healthy 

Opting for mostly plant-based foods, limiting red meat and processed meat, can have a big impact on your health. The World Cancer Research Fund highlight that diets lower in meat intake boast lower risks of strokes, heart disease, cancers, type 2 diabetes and premature death.

Save Money  

Most of the staples of a meat-free diet (i.e. beans, lentils, rice and corn) are comparatively cheaper, and longer lasting, than meat. 

Eating less meat + more veg = saving money

Save Lives

Billions of animals farmed and killed for meat each year are raised in intensive factory farms. These animals are often diseased, injured and dying, due to the unnatural conditions they are kept in. 

Eating less meat does reduce the number of animal lives lost (if you are curious about your impact try a Vegetarian Calculator online).

Alleviate world hunger

We produce more grain to feed animals than humans. It can take up to 12 kg of grain to produce 1 kg of beef, which is an inefficient use of energy. Currently, around 900 million people suffer from hunger and undernourishment, yet an amount of cereal which could feed three times this number of people is fed to cattle, pigs and chickens.

Save our environment 

Continued agricultural intensification, expansion, and overfishing, will continue to contribute to loss of species and biodiversity. Greenhouse gases, such as methane, CO², and nitrous oxide, produced by livestock, decaying manure and the destruction of forest ecosystems, also contribute to climate change .

Shared successes! 

Please get in touch with one of your favourite meat free recipes- tasty  and kind to the wallet- so we can share them for others to try:

Getting #CovidFit with Self-Care

in Health & Beauty

Public Health Gibraltar launches its second COVIDFit campaign using the catch phrase Self-care: How. When. Where; which aims to reinforce 3 key points:

  • what we can do for ourselves when feeling unwell
  • when we should seek a healthcare professional’s advice
  • where to access the appropriate services.

Understanding our own bodies, identifying when we are unwell and choosing to stay home to prevent the spread to others is the heart of all good infection control. 

Key COVID-19 Symptoms: 

  • Temp >37.8’C 
  • New cough (dry or chesty) 
  • Shortness of Breath (unable to complete a sentence without pausing to breathe) 
  • Loss of appetite/ sense of smell/ taste 
  • Headache 
  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle Pain /body ache 
  • Sore throat 

Although we may experience the same infections differently, there are key symptoms to be aware of in regards to the COVID-19 virus. These consist of a new cough, fever, unexplained headaches and body fatigue/aches. You can use the government self-test tool [] to check symptoms.

If you notice new symptoms, go home immediately, and contact 111 for advice. 

For the majority of us, experiencing COVID-19 will mean treating manageable symptoms through self-care within home-isolation. Advisable treatments include:

  • Medicines as per the recommended dose to treat symptoms (e.g. paracetamol to alleviate fever, sore throat, muscle aches etc.). 
  • Getting plenty of rest, taking the necessary time off work to allow a full recovery
  • Drinking plenty of fluids such as warm drinks or clear soups
  • Avoiding smoking and exposure to any secondhand smoke; this will delay healing and have a further negative effect on your health
  • Continued hand and respiratory hygiene; washing hands for at least 20 seconds whenever required, and catching/binning/ killing any germs from coughs and sneezes
  • Keeping your rooms well ventilated

COVID-19 remains deadly for the elderly and those with unstable underlying illnesses, however, it is also crucial to note that regardless of this new disease, there may be some people who will still suffer and pass away from non-Covid related illnesses. 

The GHA’s excellent service is always available for non COVID-19 related emergencies including chest pains, stroke, injuries etc. and the A&E department is still accessible for these and other life-saving emergencies. Similarly, the primary care centre retains doctor and nurse practitioner appointments for non COVID-19 queries. Public Health are reinforcing a key message- 

Seek timely intervention when you need it!

If you have symptoms that are persistent and you are unable to manage them at home, contact the GP or Nurse Practitioner via the new telephone service 200 07910 available from 8:30am – 7pm Monday to Sunday.

If you are severely breathless or require emergency attention contact 190 as you normally would (being sure to inform them if you have any COVID-19 symptoms).

For more information on keeping #CovidFit see

Smoking & Covid-19

in Health & Beauty

Smoking tobacco is known to damage the lungs and airways causing a range of severe respiratory problems. Smoking is also detrimental to the immune system; this makes smokers more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Several studies have highlighted that smokers are more likely than non-smokers to contract influenza and have more severe symptoms.

A recent systematic review of studies on COVID-19 in relation to smoking highlights that smoking is most likely associated with the negative progression and adverse outcomes of COVID-19.

By smoking, you are not only putting yourself at greater risk of developing severe  disease from the COVID-19 virus, but those around you exposed to second hand smoke, including children, are also at increased risk. Furthermore, the repetitive hand to mouth movement provides an easy route of entry for the virus, putting smokers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

In light of this COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a more important time to stop smoking; not just for your own health but to protect those around you. 

Remember, it is never too late to quit!

  • Once you quit smoking, your body will repair itself progressively; more immediate benefits include:
  • Elimination of carbon monoxide from the body after 48 hours 
  • Clearing out of mucus and other smoking debris from the lungs
  • Relaxation of the bronchial tubes, making breathing easier after 72 hours 
  • Improvement in blood circulation making physical activity like walking and running easier after 2 to 12 weeks 

If you can’t quit, step down!

The role of vaping and COVID-19 is not yet clear and research indicates that any form of smoking will affect respiratory function. However, if you find the idea of quitting “cold turkey” as being too difficult, Public Health advises a step down approach:

If you smoke or have a loved one who smokes, now is the time to Stub it. Stop it. And get #CovidFit. 

There are various tools to help stop smoking efforts, such as e-cigarettes, nicotine patches, tablets (Champix) etc. Some people prefer to go “cold turkey”, but research shows you are four times more likely to quit with additional guidance and support. Public Health recommends:

  • accessing our free GHA smoke cessation service (200 07910)
  • asking your local pharmacy for “stepping-down” advice
  • downloading a SmokeFree app to understand your smoking patterns
  • growing your support network and connecting with others in the same position
  • checking for more information

Health Promotion, Ministry of Public Health, Gibraltar

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