The prevalence and trends of overweight, obesity and nutrition-related non-communicable diseases in the Arabian Gulf States


SW Ng, CB # 8120 University Square, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, USA. E-mail:


This paper reviews studies on the prevalence of overweight, obesity and related nutrition-related non-communicable diseases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Obesity is common among women; while men have an equal or higher overweight prevalence. Among adults, overweight plus obesity rates are especially high in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and especially among 30–60 year olds (70–85% among men; 75–88% among women), with lower levels among younger and elderly adults. The rate of increase in obesity was pronounced in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Prevalence of obesity is high among Kuwaiti and Saudi pre-schoolers (8–9%), while adolescent overweight and obesity are among the highest in the world, with Kuwait having the worst estimates (40–46%); however, comparison of child data is difficult because of differing standards. Among nutrition-related non-communicable diseases, hypertension and diabetes levels are very high and increase with age, with the UAE performing the worst because of a rapid rate of increase between 1995 and 2000. Additional monitoring of the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and cancers is necessary. Nationally representative longitudinal surveys with individual, household and community-level information are needed to determine the importance of various factors that contribute to these troubling trends.