With waistlines expanding rapidly in the residents of Gulf cooperative council countries, (GCC) (including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman) with special thanks to a fast-food culture, sedentary/westernized lifestyles, outdoor weather conditions and complex interplay of many other factors. GCC region can no longer ignore the cost of obesity
(indirect and direct) in terms of consequent health problems, healthcare expenditure and human sufferings.
Figures from population prevalence of obesity studies vary widely but all point towards a single conclusion; there is a time bomb of obesity and related disease ticking in the GCC countries leading to “another gulf war syndrome”. Obesity is already an epidemic
and is rising with no signs of slowing.
According to the latest available study by the WHO, 67% of Emirati men and 72% of Emirati women are overweight
. Around 39.9% of UAE women are obese, the seventh highest proportion in the world. Among men, 25.6% were classified as obese, the ninth highest figure. Official UAE health
ministry calculated that 44.6% of Emirati women will be obese by 2015. At an obesity conference in Abu Dhabi, in 2010, it was released that 71% of the Emirati adult population is obese, while in a recent survey in Abu Dhabi, 35% of the population was classified as obese and 32% as overweight. Studies have also found that expatriate workers from various countries are far more likely to suffer from obesity after spending a period of time in the UAE.
Recent study on OSA
prevalence in UAE revealed that almost 24% of males in the UAE probably have sleep disorders related to sleep apnea, and about 21% of females from almost 1,200 people surveyed.
As GCC regions is becoming more richer, it is also becoming prosperous in the prevalence of obesity, OSA and other related medical illness. Kuwait has the highest incidence of obesity in the world with 42.8% of its population deemed overweight, and in Saudi Arabia over 35% population is considered clinically overweight. The high rankings are a "curse" of the prosperity enjoyed by Gulf citizens over the past few decades. The prevalence of obesity in adults of 30-60 years in Saudi Arabia has increased by 1.5% for women and 4.1% for men annually. In Qatar and Kuwait, 35% and 36% of male; and 45% and 48% of female adults were found to be obese respectively. Equally alarming explosion of obesity has been observed in young people in GCC.