Saudi Arabia, UAE have high prevalence of overweight people: EIU research

Arab News 0 تعليق 14 ارسل لصديق نسخة للطباعة

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE are three of the bottom four countries in the 2016 Food Sustainability Index, published Thursday by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
Challenges for Saudi Arabia and the UAE include a high prevalence of obese and overweight people and widespread food waste, according to researchers.
On the consumption side, growing affluence in Saudi Arabia and the UAE has been accompanied by a change in dietary habits and lifestyles.
Around 70 percent of the population is overweight — the worst ratio in the index and among the highest globally— contributing to a rise of non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, said the researchers.
Egypt’s primary challenges include the negative environmental impact of agriculture on land and the high prevalence of overweight in children (20.75 percent), even as the country also experiences “stunting”, related to undernutrition, in 22.3 percent of children under five.
“There are efforts across the Gulf to promote healthy eating, and if implemented, then these countries may perform better in future editions of the index,” says Maria-Luiza Apostolescu, the index research manager.
“Moreover, high levels of affluence in Saudi Arabia and the UAE mean purchasing power exists to buy healthier foods and reduce obesity”.
Medical experts and researchers in the Kingdom, meanwhile, said the number of Saudi nationals who suffer from diabetes has reached 3.8 million in 2015.
The increase of type two diabetes among Saudi nationals is due to their unhealthy lifestyle which includes low physical activity and increased tobacco consumption. Those who suffer from diabetes are also at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The genetic factor also plays a big role, said Dr. Fatima Younes Al-Sulil, program director of National Diabetes Prevention and Control Program.
Citing statistics, the director said that 38 percent of diabetics in Saudi Arabia are above the age of 30. The share of diabetics among those aged 15 and above is about 13.4 percent.
According to experts, type two diabetes represents more than 80 percent of all such cases in Saudi Arabia. The prevalence of diabetes type two is expected to increase up to 45 percent by 2030.

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