Qatar, which has the highest per
capita wealth in the world, is also the obesity capital of the world, with over
half the population overweight, according to a report in the UK.
The energy-rich Gulf State, which
was ranked by Forbes this year as the world’s wealthiest country, has seen an
increase in obesity related health problems, according to a report in the UK’s
Half of all adults in the state
are classed as obese and 17 percent are suffering from diabetes, making it the
most overweight country in the world, the report said.
By way of comparison, a third of
Americans are classed as obese and eight percent suffer from diabetes.
An unhealthy combination of low
levels of exercise and a growing popularity of fast food outlets has led to
concern among local health activists.
“It's a very, very serious
problem facing the future of Qatar,” Sharoud Al-Jundi Matthis, the programme
manager at the Qatar Diabetes Association, was quoted as saying.
Qataris make up just 250,000 of a
population of 1.7m and the government hopes the development of sport in
the country, through the hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2022 and bidding for the
Olympic Games in 2020, will help boost interest in exercise and outdoor
“Our main focus is encouraging
people to be active, getting them to lead healthy lifestyles - that's our
vision,” Maher Safi, marketing director at the Qatar Olympic Committee, said in
“In the past few years, the
committee has launched public programmes administering free body-mass indexes and
sugar level tests, disseminated material about healthy eating, and introduced
initiatives to schools to help children learn about new sports, like handball,
tennis, and bicycling,” he added.
The issue of diabetes is a
growing problem in the region, with the number of people suffering from the
disease in MENA expected to double in less than 20
years, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) said in November.
Data from its global study
indicates that the number of people living with diabetes is expected to rise
from 366m in 2011 to 552m by 2030.
In the region, 32.6m or 9.1 percent of the population now have diabetes,
the IDF said.
It added that this number is
expected to double, with estimates suggesting that there are as many as 19.2m people undiagnosed.
The new regional figures also
show that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the region for younger age
groups is substantially higher than the global average.
The IDF said that by 2030, 11
percent of MENA, 59.7m people, will
be living with diabetes.
It added that six out of the
world's top ten countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes are in the
Dr Amir-Kamran Nikousokhan Tayar,
MENA chair at IDF, said: "It is now more
vital than ever that we adopt a multi-sectoral approach to tackling diabetes.
"We need to encourage
governments in our countries to take a 'Health in All Policies' approach and
encourage people, in particular parents, to educate themselves on the risks
associated with diabetes and to know the signs."