Confronting obesity in the Middle East: Cultural, social and policy challenges

A combination of major lifestyle and dietary changes over the past few decades, harsh weather conditions that limit outdoor activities and a genetic predisposition has led to an obesity crisis in many parts of the Middle East. A report on this topic that I edited has just been published. It is based on five in-depth interviews with senior obesity experts from the region, complemented by extensive desk research.

The main findings of the research are as follows: 

  • The prevalence of obesity in the region is among the highest in the world. 
  • High levels of obesity in the region are the result of a complex combination of interconnected environmental, cultural, and biological causes. 
  • Obesity is a major economic burden on countries in the region. 
  • A widespread public perception in the region is that obesity is a symptom of diabetes or hypertension, rather than a disease in itself. 

The full study is available here.
An infographic summarising the key findings is here.

Country case studies have also been published:
Saudi Arabia

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