Obesity in the UAE

Obesity is an important public health issue.  Raised BMI is a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases such as:

  • cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), which are the leading cause of death globally
  • diabetes
  • musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints)
  • some cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon)

Childhood obesity is associated with a higher incidence of obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood. In addition to increased future risks, obese children experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and psychological effects.

In 2016 WHO reported these alarming figures:

  • UAE – 17.3% children and adolescents aged 5 – 19 years and 31.7% of adults are obese
  • UAE- 35.8% children and adolescents aged 5 – 19 years 67.8% of adults are overweight

Reducing obesity is a priority for the UAE, as shown in several initiatives in the past couple of years. Examples include targeting schools via “DHA – School Health Policy”, and Dubai Municipality’s initiative “Your weight in Gold”.