Qatar is placed 36 among the world’s 50 fattest countries. It also has the second highest prevalence of overweight and obesity in the GCC region, which is considerably higher than in most OECD countries. At least 71 percent of all residents here are overweight, while 75 percent of Qataris are overweight. At the same time, 32 percent of the whole population here and 40 percent of the Qatari population is obese or morbidly obese. Twenty-eight percent of Qatari children are overweight.
Over the years, the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) has been conducting programmes on a healthy lifestyle targeting various sections of the society. The National Health Strategy announced earlier this year also contains recommendations on reducing the prevalence of obesity by introducing exercise programmes, nutrition education, use of incentives and penalties to improve compliance with sports activities, wellness promotion in the workplace, accessibility to a nutritionist and policies aimed at reducing fast-food consumption, among other things. Other government organisations such as the Supreme Education Council and sports bodies are also putting in their efforts to curb the problem.
However, one of the biggest hurdles doctors, nutritionists and other health professionals face is people’s refusal to believe that they are overweight or obese.
Some 50 percent of the obese Arab males and females here consider themselves underweight. Also, around 80 percent of those who are either overweight or obese think of themselves as having an ideal weight, according to a study presented at the First International AACE-Gulf Conference on Diabetes, Obesity and other Endocrine Diseases, held here early this year.
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