Overweight & Obesity
New data analysis shows troubling rise
in obesity across the MENA region
According to a new,
first-of-its-kind analysis of trend data from 188 countries released May
29 this year, more than 58% of men and more than 65% of women across the
Middle East and North Africa were found to be either overweight or obese
in 2013. Middle East Health reports.
Worldwide, prevalence of overweight
and obesity combined rose by 27·5% for adults and 47·1% for children
between 1980 and 2013. The number of overweight and obese individuals
increased from 857 million in 1980, to 2·1 billion in 2013, according to
disturbing new data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
(IHME) at the University of Washington
Increases were recorded in
developed and developing countries, but with different sex patterns,
according to the report. In developed countries, more men than women
were overweight and obese, whereas in developing countries, overweight
and obesity was more prevalent in women than in men, and this
association persisted over time
More than three-quarters of the
countries in the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region had overweight
and obesity rates of more than 50% among both men and women. Overall,
there are an estimated 259 million overweight (180 million) or obese (79
million) people living in the region today.
The study, “Global,
regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children
and adults during 1980–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden
of Disease Study 2013,” conducted by the IHME was published in The
Lancet on May 29.
The authors write: “Unlike other major global risks,
such as tobacco and childhood malnutrition, obesity is not decreasing
worldwide. Obesity is already a major public health challenge in many
middle- income countries, and tracking this important risk to health
with increased precision and disaggregation in both developing and
developed countries is a key global health priority.”
defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI), or weight-to-height ratio,
greater than or equal to 25 and lower than 30, while obesity is defined
as having a BMI equal to or greater than 30.
The prevalence of
overweight and obesity in adults in North Africa and the Middle East
rose from nearly 53% to 62% over the study period. In 2013, the prevalenceof overweight and obesity in adult males was nearly 59%, while
in females this prevalence was substantially higher, nearly 66%. Within
this region, Kuwait experienced the highest prevalence for adults
“As a region, the Middle East and North Africa has
done a tremendous job combating infectious diseases and improving child
and maternal survival, but now we are seeing a very disturbing trend
with obesity,” said Ali Mokdad, director of Middle Eastern Initiatives
at IHME. “Obesity is growing unchecked throughout the region and
threatens to undo the success the region has seen in improving health
for the past three decades.”
Over the 33-year period of research,
several countries in the Middle East showed the largest increase in
obesity rates globally, including Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman,
and Kuwait. The top three countries with the greatest prevalence for
obesity among men in 2013 were Qatar (44%) and Kuwait (43%), followed by
Bahrain (31%). The prevalence of obesity among women exceeded 50% in
three Middle Eastern countries – Kuwait (59%), Libya (57%), and Qatar
In most countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan,
Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia,
Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, overweight and
obesity rates were higher than 50% percent among both men and women.
Qatari men (76%) and Kuwaiti women (84%) showed the greatest rates of
overweight/ obesity prevalence in the Middle East and North Africa. In
Egypt, more than 71% of men and 79% of women were overweight/obese.
Nearly three-quarters of Saudi women were found to be either overweight
or obese, as were 69% of Saudi men. In Oman, prevalence of overweight/
obesity was 54% among men and 73% among women.
Being either overweight
or obese is also a major health issue for Middle Eastern and North
African children. Among children, the prevalence of overweight and
obesity in the region rose substantially from nearly 19% to 25% over the
study period, making it the third highest regional prevalence in 2013.
Worst affected countries
The top three countries in the region with the
greatest rates of overweight or obesity among girls include Kuwait
(46%), Oman (42%), and Libya (42%). Among boys the countries with the
highest rates are Qatar (34%), Libya (33%), and Lebanon (33%).
nearly one-third of boys and 40% of girls are either overweight or
obese. Nearly 40% of Saudi girls are overweight or obese, as are nearly
one-quarter of boys. When compared with the United States, where the
greatest proportion of the world’s obese people live, obesity prevalence
among Middle Eastern and North African women was the same, about 34%.
However, a larger proportion of American men (71%) were obese than men
in the Middle East and North Africa (59%).
“Obesity is an issue
affecting people of all ages and incomes, everywhere,” said Dr
Christopher Murray, director of IHME and a co-founder of the Global
Burden of Disease (GBD) study. “In the last three decades, not one
country has achieved success in reducing obesity rates, and we expect
obesity to rise steadily as incomes rise in low- and middle-income
countries in particular, unless urgent steps are taken to address this
public health crisis.”
Looking at individual
countries, the highest proportion of the world’s obese people (13%) live
in the United States. China and India together represent 15% of the
world’s obese population.
While the percentage of people worldwide who
are either overweight or obese has risen substantially over the last 30
years, there have been marked variations across regions and countries.
In developed countries, increases in obesity that began in the 1980s and
accelerated from 1992 to 2002 have slowed since 2006. Conversely, in
developing countries, where almost two-thirds of the world’s obese
people currently live, increases are likely to continue.
study found that among children and adolescents, obesity has increased
substantially worldwide. Between 1980 and 2013, the prevalence of
overweight or obese children and adolescents increased by nearly 50%. In
2013, more than 22% of girls and nearly 24% of boys living in developed
countries were found to be overweight or obese. Rates are also on the
rise among children and adolescents in the developing world, where
nearly 13% of boys and more than 13% of girls are overweight or obese.
of upload: 14th July 2014