Study Finds Higher Rates of Obesity Among UAE Nationals Than Expatriates

Study Finds Higher Rates of Obesity Among UAE Nationals Than Expatriates

Obesity is expected to cost the UAE economy nearly 5% of its GDP by 2035. This highlights the pressing need for public health efforts to change the current situation.

A new study revealed that 25% of adult expats in the UAE were obese, while 33% of adult Emiratis were overweight. Additionally, nearly 40% of children in the UAE were either overweight or obese. In 2019, 7,622 adult deaths in the UAE were linked to non-communicable diseases caused by being overweight or obese.

The study discovered that the yearly economic impact of being overweight was $12 billion. It's estimated that by 2035, around 7.5 million adults, children, and adolescents in the UAE will be dealing with obesity issues, raising the cost to $30.7 billion.

By 2035, it's estimated that nearly 700,000 children and teenagers in the UAE will be dealing with overweight or obesity, with about 400,000 boys and over 300,000 girls affected. The study also predicts that around 66,127 children will have high blood pressure, 24,815 will have high blood sugar, and 69,640 will have low HDL cholesterol due to being overweight or obese.

The economic impact of obesity in the UAE is expected to reach almost 5% of the GDP by 2035. This highlights the urgent need for national and local public health initiatives to change the current situation.

Johanna Ralston, CEO of the World Obesity Federation, emphasized the importance of addressing obesity, stating that without action, the UAE will continue to see more people suffering from obesity and increased economic costs associated with the disease.

Ralston stressed the significance of utilizing the new data to implement effective strategies aimed at reducing obesity and its economic burdens.

If current trends persist, obesity rates are projected to soar to 66.48% in men and 64.21% in women by 2060.

Not recognizing obesity as a disease

World Obesity Day is observed globally on March 4th to raise awareness and promote practical solutions for tackling the global obesity crisis.

Despite commendable efforts in the UAE to combat overweight and obesity, such as making fitness options more accessible for women and implementing taxes on sugary beverages, experts suggest that more can be done, according to the World Obesity Federation.

Dr. Sara Suliman, a consultant endocrinologist and diabetologist in Abu Dhabi at Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, highlighted that the UAE has established care standards for managing obesity since 2008. She noted the initiation of a working group, with support from the World Obesity Federation, to develop unified guidelines and raise awareness about obesity and its management.

Recognizing obesity as a disease, educating healthcare professionals and affected individuals, establishing clear management guidelines, and garnering support from all sectors involved are cited as the primary challenges to managing obesity, as stated by Dr. Suliman through the World Obesity Federation.

Obesity increases with age

The study revealed that in the adult population of the UAE, combined overweight and obesity generally increases with age. This trend is more noticeable in women, with prevalence rising from 48.9% in 18-29-year-olds to 80.6% in 60-69-year-olds. Over half of women in the 60-69 age group are obese. In contrast, obesity rates among men remain relatively stable across different age groups.

Additionally, the study found that 82.8% of adults consume less than five servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day, and 70.8% of adults do not engage in sufficient physical activity. About 88% of adults have some form of health insurance, with most uninsured individuals being non-nationals.

News Source: Khaleej Times

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