Dubai: A staggering 77 per cent of Kuwait’s population is overweight, and over 40 per cent is obese, according to alarming statistics released by the country’s Ministry of Health.
Dr. Abeer Al Bahwa, Director of the Health Promotion Department at the Ministry, has revealed that Kuwait has the highest rate of obesity in the Arab world, with the younger age group of 18 to 29 years being particularly affected.
Dr. Al Bahwa warned of a global obesity epidemic set to worsen. The number of overweight individuals worldwide could rise from 2.6 billion in 2020 to over 4 billion by 2035. This would mean an increase from 38 per cent to over 50 per cent of the world’s population being obese within the span of 15 years.
The impact on children and adolescents is expected to be significant, with projected obesity rates of 10-20 per cent for boys and 8-18 per cent for girls during the 2020 to 2035 period. Unfortunately,
Kuwait is not insulated from these global trends.
Obesity has been identified as a leading risk factor for chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It’s the fifth major risk factor for death globally, making the fight against it imperative.
Obesity, especially in children, can lead to a multitude of complications, ranging from physical health issues like shortness of breath, fatigue, joint pain, and early or delayed puberty, to psychological and social problems.
In the broader Gulf region, one in five adults suffers from obesity. The adult obesity rate in Kuwait alone is expected to reach an alarming 52 per cent by 2035. The treatment for childhood obesity involves a multi-disciplinary approach, including nutritional education, physical training, group therapy sessions, and medical interventions for related health conditions.
For adolescents, weight-loss surgeries could be considered, but these do not substitute necessary changes in diet and lifestyle.
Preventing obesity, especially in children, is a crucial task that requires attention and effort from parents and healthcare providers.
Encouraging healthy eating habits, promoting physical activity, ensuring sufficient sleep, and limiting screen time are among the strategies suggested by Dr. Al Bahwa.
She also highlighted the importance of creating public parks and recreational spaces and integrating compulsory physical education into school curricula.
To address this health crisis, the Health Promotion Department is conducting ongoing campaigns, in cooperation with several departments and community partners, aiming to reduce the high obesity rate in Kuwait within the next five years.