Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has blasted unhealthy eating
habits for the dramatic rise in obesity across the Middle East and in other
The UK restaurateur, who has championed of healthy diets
among school children, criticised the developing Middle East, India and South
America for copying the West’s culture of fast food and consumerism.
"There seems to be a trend with developing countries
wanting to follow in the footsteps of the western world, and copy their
patterns of fast food and consumerism," Oliver told the UN-backed One
Young World conference in Switzerland.
“Pre-packed convenience food is seen as a symbol of being
'modern' in developing countries, but the problems it causes are long-term, and
Oliver, who opened an outpost of his ‘Jamie’s Italian’
restaurant chain in Dubai last year, said diet-related medical problems could
create “an absolute catastrophe” over the next three decades if obesity rates
continue to rise.
"Diet-related diseases are two of the top five causes
of premature death for people under 60 years old,” he said, calling for a “global
movement to make obesity a human rights issue.”
The Gulf states have some of the highest rates of obesity
and type 2 diabetes in the world. The UAE ranks only behind the Pacific island
of Nauru for diabetes incidence, and is closely followed by Bahrain, Egypt,
Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
A host of factors have been blamed for the bulge in
waistlines, including rising urban incomes, the adoption of a western,
fast-food led diet and a decline in physical exercise.
A report by Philips Healthcare in January found 70 percent
of UAE residents were classed as overweight or obese. Two thirds of the 750
people surveyed, however, believed themselves to be leaner than they were.
According to the World Health Organisation, one in 10 of the
world’s population is obese, with rates of obesity more than doubling since
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