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UN report identifies the GCC states with high obesity rates


July 11, 2013 10:39 by

A new United Nations report has ranked populations in the Gulf among the world’s fattest and close to half of adults in Kuwait have been identified as obese.

A study by The State of Food and Agriculture reports that that rising obesity rates could cost the global economy $47 trillion over the next two decades, due to loss of labour productivity and fees associated with treating lifestyle diseases, such as: diabetes and heart disease.

Kuwait has the highest proportion of obese adults in the GCC, with 42.8 per cent falling into this bracket in 2008, followed by Saudi Arabia at 35.2 per cent. In the UAE, 33.7 per cent of the population were identified as having serious weight problems, while in Qatar it was 33.1 per cent and, Bahrain 32.6 per cent.

In terms of the Gulf, obesity was least prevalent in Oman, although at more than a fifth (22.1 per cent), it was broadly in line with developed European countries.

The report said that the prevalence of overweight and obese adults was rising in nearly all regions, with the global average increasing from 24 per cent in 1980 to 34 per cent to 2008.

The UN study blamed rising obesity rates on factors including lower prices of food and increased availability of highly-processed food products, as well as genetic pre-disposition.

The GCC countries have some of the highest rates of lifestyle diseases in the world, with the International Diabetes Foundation last year forecasting that about 20 per cent of the population is afflicted by the disease.

The overall spending on healthcare in the Gulf, according to figures from Deloitte, is just $1,200 per capita, compared to $5,000 in developed countries.

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