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Sun 15 Apr 2012 10:58 AM

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Qatar world's most overweight nation - report

Lack of exercise and fast food has led to high levels of diabetes

Qatar world's most overweight nation - report
Qatar is the most overweight country on the planet.

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
Daily Mail

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
the report.

“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."

Digital magazine: Read the latest edition of Arabian Business online

The Hamburglar 7 years ago

The problem is not one country, its the Arab world. There is not enough exercise. Perhaps due to the weather (but then again, I come from a place that has a blanket of heavy snow covering us half of the year and we are still active all year round) but its a cultural thing. From a culture that dove for pearls, fished for days and walked for hundreds of miles in the hot sun to sitting in 50% tint with aircon eating a burger or riding the golf cart in the mall to get from Gucci to Louis Vuitton. The cultural food here is very very healthy. Skip the fast food and have tabhouli, shwarma and fattoush instead. I'll bet that 50 years ago, the Middle East was the fittest region in the world

Abdulaziz 7 years ago

Well said.

Logarithm 7 years ago

The study is quite biased because even with 20% overweight, we cannot generalize this as warning sign simply because it represents a small number of incidents (compare to global standards). Another example is Sweden (population about 10 million), 20% of children hit the overweight level. Now when you compare this to the US, the numbers are horrible and we can tell that there's something wrong going on (can we say that the US culture promotes laziness?) I would say no culture does so. Obesity is a byproduct of modern lifestyle (goods and bads) and the best solution for the country is to establish an early long term goal for obesity (and diabetic) reduction. The article mentioned World Cup of 2022, well I would say that it will add to the problem NOT lessen it and that's due to the enormous media advertisement (and inventions) of fast food which will make the country even worse if not taking into consideration.

Mick 7 years ago

You can't force exercise....you have to "condition" at an early age, the positive side of exercise and the fun involved in it. You mention the U.S. but almost every school in the U.S. has a very heavily regulated exercise program and just about every school from middle school to University promotes sport. In fact, its almost not "cool" to not be involved in a sporting activity. We see this "cool" as rubbish but at that age, its everything. There can't be a mandated program here in the Middle East. There just has to be the desire to WANT to do it. As mentioned, at an early age. Promote getting out of the hyperdrive sports cars and have the kids want to play sport or other recreational activities.

Concerned Mom 7 years ago

I am a mother of 2 kids, and am astounded by the junk I see parents and nannies feeding kids here. Go to any park or the beach and you'll see 1-year olds eating lollipops, toddlers eating chocolate bars, and parents/caretakers pulling cookies, candy, chips out of their bags for the children to eat. I've seen kids at the nursery eating chocolate DONUTS for breakfast! Give me a break! Have you seen some of the tooth decay on these children? I honestly think it comes down to irresponsibility on the part of the parents, not lack of education. They MUST know that it's not good for kids to eat this stuff. Really, it breaks my heart, because it's not the children's fault - it is the irresponsibility/laziness of the parents.

Lumlumette 7 years ago

Very well said, coming from Canada myself, Snow never stopped us from engaging in physical activity. The weather is not the issue here, as there are plenty of indoor air-conditioned gyms.
I believe the variety and abundance of fast and junk food available in the richest arab countries, favor the increasing obesity, and laziness in people.

Moderation is key! eat healthy, have junk food when you crave it from time to time, that is okay, but also work out!

qathar 7 years ago

17 percent thats tooooo much population.they must do samthing to redice the thing.

Thamir Ghaslan 7 years ago

Cut your carbs for maximum effect!

I've cut rice and bread from my daily diet and dropped 5 kilos, from 80 to 75, in two weeks. Used to be chicken and rice and now chicken only.

People wonder about obesity and diabetic, over consumption of rice is the problem.

I look at "low fat" and "low calories" in a different light now, people over consume carbs and sugars here.

Saudi Engineer 7 years ago


I think you're absolutely right. The world has lost its sense of responsibility. Kids don't know any better and cant really be blamed. It's the parents that are no longer parenting, and not instilling the sense of responsible eating or exercising. It's a world wide phenomenon, but maybe slightly more widespread in this part of the world.

Mick 7 years ago

It's not just diet. Anyone that is fit will tell you that they don't sit on their bum all day eating granola and tofu. They usually eat burgers and fish and chips and drink beer etc but they burn it all off. It's exercise that is the key. The body's metabolism must be built up at an early age or it will be slow for the life of the person. Sometimes you have the right genes but local kids need to get out. I actually saw a 5 year old kid in a stroller the other day in MoE pushed by a nanny. I couldnt believe it. Have a good diet but stop being seated 50% of the day. Australian scientiests did a report that stated that if a person sits for morethan 11 hours a day there is a 50% or more chance they will die within 3 years if maintaining this lifestyle.