GCC must throw its weight behind obesity fight

Daniel Shane says the region is losing its battle against obesity and lifestyle diseases
Daniel Shane
By Daniel Shane
Thu 11 Jul 2013 08:52 AM

Earlier this week the United Nations published its annual report into global obesity rates, and when it came to the GCC, the findings were jaw-dropping.

According to the study, Kuwait was the worst offender with 43 percent of its adult population classed as – not just overweight – but clinically obese. The rest of the region did not fare much better. In Saudi Arabia it was 35.2 percent, while In the UAE 33.7 percent of the population were identified as having a serious weight problem. In Qatar it was 33.1 percent and Bahrain 32.6 percent.

The cost of rising obesity rates can also be counted in economic terms. A recent report by Frost & Sullivan claimed that GCC healthcare expenditure will triple to $133.19bn by 2018, partly on the back of rising incidences of lifestyle diseases, which appallingly have an incidence rate in the region of about 20 percent. This is not mentioning people who are unable to work because they are severely overweight.

Simply put the GCC must do more to stem its ‘Obese Spring’.

Looking around Dubai, it is obvious to see where the problem lies. Walk around any shopping mall on a Friday afternoon and you will queues of families snaking outside of any Baskin Robbins, Krispy Kreme or McDonald’s.

It is no coincidence that McDonald’s enjoys 900,000 customers a day eating at its restaurants and that Dunkin’ Brands, the company behind ice cream giant Baskin Robbins, recently announced plans to open 100 new outlets in the region.

These corporates must shoulder some sense of responsibility for their customers’ wellbeing, but ultimately living a healthy lifestyle is down to consumers themselves.

So come on GCC, put down those forks and shed those pounds.

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