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10 fat facts
The number of obese people in the region is growing, and so is the money they are costing the Gulf region for healthcare. Here are some stats.
April 22, 2009 2:37 by Aarti Nagraj
1. According to Tawfiq Khoja, the secretary-general of the GCC Health Ministers Council executive office, around 50 percent of the population in the six Gulf states are overweight and obese.
2. Statistics indicate that 60 percent of Emirati nationals are overweight, with the expatriate community following on the same track, says Elaine O’Connell, the senior show manager for the soon-to-be held Wellness & Spas Middle East exhibition. She also said that the UAE has the second highest rate of type two diabetes in the world.
3. Diabetes was found to affect 19.6 percent of the population in the UAE – almost one person in five – in studies conducted in 2005. The figure is expected to pass 28 percent by 2025 if no measures are taken.
4. About one-third of the adult population in Bahrain is overweight or obese, Hussein Faour, a surgeon at the Al Kindi Specialised Hospital told Gulf Daily News last month. He also said that according to a World Health Organization study, around 21.2 percent of males and 35.2 percent of females (aged between 15 and 100) were estimated to be obese in Bahrain in 2005, and the numbers are expected to rise to 40.7 percent of females by 2015.
5. Unhealthy lifestyles in Bahrain are costing the country an estimated $2 billion a year, Tawfiq Khoja has said. “The cost of hospitalization, man days lost, people becoming incapacitated and even losing their lives all add up to this mind-boggling figure,” he said.
6. Obese and overweight citizens account for 52 percent of Saudi Arabia’s adult population, say studies. Market researcher RNCOS’s Saudi Arabian healthcare market forecast found that 68 percent of men and 63 percent of women over the age of 15 are likely to be obese or overweight by 2015.
7. Khoja has said that the financial burden placed on Saudi Arabia by unhealthy lifestyles is approximately $45 billion each year.
8. In 2005, studies showed that Kuwait had the highest obesity levels in the world. A study by the Kuwait Ministry of Health last year claimed that up to 81 percent of Kuwaiti women are overweight.
9. Studies from Qatar released last year showed that 40 percent of the children in the country suffer from diabetes of one kind or another. “Lifestyle is the main reason for this alarming rise of childhood diabetes,” said an official at the Qatar Diabetes Association. Around 12 percent of children in the UAE are overweight, while 22 percent are susceptible to obesity, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health.
10. A study in 2007 showed that Oman had the lowest rate of obesity in the Gulf countries, standing at 11 percent. Interestingly, Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, Minister of Health, told Oman Daily at the time that, “Obesity has shown an increasing trend among Omani adult men and a decreasing trend among women”.