Obesity on the rise in the Middle East

MORE than 50% of people in the Middle East are obese, according to new World Health Authority figures. The number of people affected by the chronic condition is also rising at an alarming rate.

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By  David Robinson Published  March 27, 2005

MORE than 50% of people in the Middle East are obese, according to new World Health Authority figures. The number of people affected by the chronic condition is also rising at an alarming rate. “We are now recognising that the Middle East is one of the areas of the world with the highest rates of overweight and obese people,” said Professor Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity Task Force. James, one the world’s leading experts on the subject, was in the region last week to meet with doctors from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to discuss new ways to tackle the epidemic. The International Obesity Task Force is a global body that aims to alert the world to the growing threats presented by soaring levels of obesity. “In the 21st century, obesity has become an epidemic, and the consequences of ignoring the issue is increasing levels of illness and raising health costs. The links between overweight and obesity and a range of other serious diseases from diabetes and heart disease to cancer are now more clearly understood, yet little is being done to tackle this world-wide problem effectively,” the professor said. “Obesity levels in some countries in the region have more than doubled in recent years, and this makes it essential that all bodies support a coordinated, effective approach to tackling the disease,” he added. The Middle East’s relatively high level of disposable income, combined with changes in dietary habits, inactive lifestyles, and demographic shifts have combined to make obesity one of the biggest health problems the region has ever witnessed, say experts. “Cases of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and joint ailments are often linked with obesity in the region,” said Dr. Mohamed Aboulghate, general secretary of the Egyptian Medical Group for the Study of Obesity. To respond to the situation, local health groups across the Middle East have joined together to launch iDecide, a programme which aims to provide direct medical support for people who want to lose weight.

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