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Battle of the bulge

Obesity in UAE

UAE is now the 5th heaviest country in the world, along with five other GCC nations in the top 10 roster

July 4, 2012 4:54 by

The US has established itself as the world’s fattest nation, but the GCC countries are not far behind. Kuwait is No.2, followed by Qatar, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. According to a study in the BMC Public Health journal, an average adult in the UAE weighs approximately 76kg, which is 14kg heavier than the global average of 62kg.

Even though the report might conjure up an image of a country filled with slow-moving cherubs, fact remains that this is a very dangerous situation to be in. More than 60% of UAE’s population is overweight, mainly due to major lifestyle, diet and education of residents. But this lack of awareness of the perils of obesity, coupled with sedentary jobs is pushing residents towards health problems such as breathing difficulties, Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and Osteoarthritis, among others. Apart from the physical problems, obesity also has psychological and emotional effects, which, if not dealt with, can lead to serious consequences, such as clinical depression.

It is found that obesity is higher among females than males in the UAE, with a ratio of 30/20 per cent female/ male, ranking the country fourth globally in terms of highest obesity ratio among women. This gender gap may have occurred due to the lax attitude of women towards sports and exercise, along with cultural influences that don’t consider overeating as a serious problem.

What’s alarming is that Emeratis and UAE residents continue to ignore the dangers of being overweight. An estimated 20-25 percent of the adult population in UAE suffers from diabetes and the country spends over $500 million every year to combat this epidemic. Experts believe that in the next few decades, the economy would bear the brunt of the overweight nation, with soaring health care costs.

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