Obesity in the Gulf
In a 2012 abstract from a report dating by Majedah M. Abdul-Rasoul of Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, entitled ‘ Obesity in children and adolescents in Gulf countries: Facts and solutions’, the author says: ‘The rapid pace of socioeconomic development in the Arabian Gulf nations and the rapidly changing environment are probably determining the altering scenario of child and adolescent nutrition in the developed societies. The rapid urbanisation in everyday life, accompanied by decreased levels of physical activity and increased calorific intake of non- traditional food has become responsible for the emerging of obesity in children and adolescents as a major public health issue in these countries. The six Arabian Gulf nations are a good example for this developmental transition and its consequences. ‘Prevalence is high among Kuwaiti and Saudi pre-school children (8– 9%), and among the highest in the world among Kuwaiti adolescents (40–46%), taking into account that different standards of assessment of obesity are used ... Prevention strategies need the collaborative efforts of governmental and community-led agencies to establish long-term programmes to improve health education, targeting young children and their families. Healthy eating and physical activity should be promoted and encouraged in schools, nurseries, and child care settings.’ The growing urbanisation and nutrition transition are largely blamed for the increasing prevalence rates of childhood and adolescent obesity and type 2 diabetes. In fact, the
prevalence of overweight and obesity in the GCC, in some cases, is exceeding that of many developed nations.
3 ‘ Factors such as family history, sedentary lifestyle, urbanisation, increased income and family diet patterns have been linked to the increased prevalence of overweight people and obesity in the Gulf. It is apparent that the main underlying cause may be poor knowledge about food choices and lack of physical activity4. Moreover, there is still widespread perception among parents and their children, at least in some of the countries, that being overweight is a sign of high social class, beauty, fertility and prosperity5. Owning TVs, satellite dishes and cars are considered to be markers of financial progress, contributing to significant physical inactivity. In some countries (like KSA), the social and cultural factors, especially on females, have limited their access to sports and leisure time exercise, and socialisation frequently involves eating.’