Is Kuwait doing enough to fix its obesity problem?

Kuwait, a jewel of the Middle East, boasts of its rich culture, dynamic economy, and modern marvels. Yet, lurking behind this progressive facade is a ticking time bomb – obesity. Kuwait ranks first globally in obesity and a disconcerting second in diabetes rates, as per the World Health Organization data. These figures cast an alarming shadow over Kuwait’s aspirations and future.

The statistics are eye-opening: 39.7% of Kuwait’s population over 18 is obese, overshadowing the US’s 38.5%. This isn’t just a numerical race but an indicator of deep-rooted issues, ranging from sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy dietary habits, genetic factors, and overall societal norms. Dr. Abeer Al Bahwa, Director of the Health Promotion Department, highlighted the disturbing trend of obesity in the 18 to 29 age bracket, the age of the country’s future torchbearers.

It’s undeniable that obesity isn’t merely about aesthetics or size. The complications associated with obesity, including heart diseases, stroke, and diabetes, are the leading causes of death worldwide. And if unchecked, Kuwait is steering towards an unprecedented health catastrophe.

Yet, beyond the physical ailments, obesity brings with it a myriad of psychological and social issues, especially for the younger generation. When children bear the brunt of weight-related complications, it becomes a shared societal failure. The Gulf region as a whole is wrestling with this challenge. By 2035, Kuwait could see over half of its adult population not just overweight but teetering into obesity.

Addressing obesity, particularly in children, is paramount. Dr. Al Bahwa suggests measures like encouraging healthy eating habits, promoting physical activity, integrating physical education into school curricula, and ensuring adequate sleep. While these are commendable, they must be executed with vigor and consistency.

Despite these grim statistics and projections, World Obesity Day on March 4th slipped under Kuwait’s radar. Mainstream media, healthcare promoters, and civil society organizations failed to magnify this issue. A blatant oversight, especially when the World Obesity Atlas indicates a potential scenario where half of Kuwait’s population could be obese by 2035.

On the financial front, the repercussions of obesity could shave off over $5.6 billion from Kuwait’s projected GDP by 2035. An amount that could be redirected towards infrastructural advancements, educational reforms, or sustainable initiatives.

While globally, obesity rates are escalating with predictions that half of the global populace will be overweight or obese by 2035, nations, including Kuwait, must introspect on the existing preventive measures. The rise in obesity cannot solely be attributed to individual choices; systemic issues, societal pressures, and a myriad of complex factors interplay in this scenario.

The widespread availability of calorie-laden processed foods, which provide fleeting satisfaction, is a significant contributor. Creating awareness about nutritious foods, making them accessible, and ensuring their affordability could be the first step towards pivoting to healthier dietary habits.

The World Obesity Federation’s report demands attention, not just from governments and policymakers but also from every individual, community, and society at large.

As Louise Baur, president of the World Obesity Federation, rightly points out, we need a unified, concerted effort to safeguard the future generations from the adverse impacts of obesity. Kuwait, with its resources and potential, is at a pivotal juncture. The pressing question remains: Is Kuwait doing enough, or does the real change start at home?

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Tags : Kuwait