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Alarming rise in obesity rate in region


By Kabeer Yousuf — MUSCAT: Feb. 6 - The child obesity rate is seeing an alarming increase in the region compared with the rest of the world because of sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits, a fitness expert has said.

“A shift in the eating habits and lifestyle in the last decade has contributed to an alarming increase in obesity. Effective measures need to be taken to check this phenomenon, says Suhair M al Shanti, Area Technical Head for Slimming at the VLCC Oman.

“The rate of obesity and overweight has been increasing drastically in the region compared with the rest of the world, which is due to wrong dietary habits and less active lifestyle,” she said.

Speaking to the Observer on the sidelines of a fitness camp organised by the Public Relations Department of Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising (OEPPA), of which Oman Daily Observer and Oman Arabic belong to, he said people tend to avoid outdoors because of the hot weather, but “the present climate in Oman lets people involve themselves in some outdoor activity”.

“These days, weather is perfect for different fitness activities, including jogging and swimming.”

According to a recent report in the medical journal Lancet, the prevalence of obesity among women stands at 58.6 per cent in Kuwait (third highest in the world) and at 54.7 per cent in Qatar (sixth highest).

Adult obesity rates stand at double digits across all the six Gulf states, the report said.

Oman’s obesity rates stood at 20.6 per cent among men and 36.9 per cent among women.

While 43.4 per cent men and 58.6 per cent women are obese in Kuwait, Qatar has 44 per cent of men and 54.7 per cent of women who are obese.

In Saudi Arabia, the figures are as follows: 30 per cent men and 44.4 per cent women, followed by Bahrain (31 per cent men, 42.9 per cent women). Obesity rate in the UAE is 27.1 per cent men and 33.2 per cent women.

“The rising prevalence of overweight and obesity in several countries has been described as a global pandemic. Worldwide prevalence has risen by 27.5 per cent for adults and 47.1 per cent for children between 1980 and last year,” Neelam Sing, Sales Manager for VLCC, added.

Worldwide, overweight and obesity were estimated to cause 3.4 million deaths, four per cent of years of life lost and four per cent of disability-adjusted life years in 2010.

Currently, more than 50 per cent of the 671 million obese individuals in the world live in 10 countries, with 62 per cent living in developing countries, the report says.

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