The prevalence of obesity is increasing globally, with nearly half a billion of the world›s population now considered to be overweight or obese. The obesity epidemic is related both to dietary factors and to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Obesity has significant co-morbidities and these are associated with substantial health care and social costs. Of particular concern is the fact that obesity is increasing among children and adolescents. Excess weight is the important risk factor for chronic diseases and is associated with diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cerebral and cardiovascular diseases, osteoarthritis, various cancers, and breathing disorders.
There is an increased concern about obesity and its associated illnesses in the Arab Gulf countries and the factors responsible for it, including changes in social and cultural environments, education, physical activity, diet and nutrition, and difference in income and time expenditure.
The prevalence of obesity has increased at an alarming rate during the last two decades, and this appears to be more pronounced in women. The prevalence of obesity increased with industrial development, which in the Arabian Gulf is related to the significant growths in incomes resulting from the rich deposits of oil reserves and the resultant impact of rapid urbanization and improved living conditions.
The rapid increase in wealth and subsequent development of Gulf countries lead to change in lifestyle. International fast food chains, easy access to cars and increased popularity of processed food etc, have contributed dramatic increase in obesity in Gulf countries. Besides the excessive consumption of fatty, salty and processed food and lack of exercise due to change in life style are important factors.
World Health Organization in its report indicates that gulf countries have highest rate of obesity. Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are in the list of top ten countries worldwide in term of obesity.
Kuwait is affected the worst with 42.8 percent obese population, this place Kuwait in top 10 most obese countries in the world. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar are not behind, with 35.2 percent and 33.1percent obesity rate respectively.
National health Authority in these countries must take action to deal with the obesity problem. Prevention should be the primary target, but it is also important to develop strategies to treat those already affected with obesity