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Posted On: 28 March 2018 04:12 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:18 pm

The obesity epidemic – Fighting the flab in Qatar

Khadiza Begum
Khadiza Begum
Content Writer
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Qatar is quite literally lumbering towards an epidemic of obesity. Our economy may be expanding quickly, but so are our waistlines - according to the Qatar Biobank Annual Report (2016/2017), more than 70 percent of the population in Qatar can be categorized as overweight or obese. The report also indicates that obesity is a greater problem in men than women as about 48% of Qatari men are overweight.

The Qatar Biobank, a member of the Qatar Foundation, conducted comprehensive medical research on prevalent health issues in Qatar in which more than 5,000 Qatari citizens and long-term residents participated. According to their report, 83% of the population engage in little or no physical activity, while nearly half of the population (41%) do not do any physical exercise at all. These extremely low levels of physical activity are a vital indicator of the national prevalence of obesity.

The report also highlights the unhealthy eating habits of people, with more than 45 percent of the population consuming fast food more than 3 times a week. It also paints a depressing picture of the poor health and well-being of the people of Qatar - amongst the participants, 44% had high cholesterol, 86% had Vitamin-D deficiency and about 16% were diagnosed with diabetes.

Causes of obesity

The various factors which are responsible for the increase in obesity in Qatari people are:

Unhealthy eating habits : Eating unhealthy foods is the primary reason obesity and its associated problems. Qatari people love fast food but are not often made totally aware of the ill effects that can be caused by a constant diet of pizzas, burgers, cold drinks, ice creams, and sodas saturated with sugar. They may taste delicious, but add little or no nutrients to our bodies, increase calories and consequently cause us to gain weight and eventually become obese.

Lack of physical exercise: Advanced technologies and other innovations have made our life easier, but they have also made us less physically active. With many people in Qatar rarely indulging in any physical exercise, it is no coincidence that obesity is on the rise.

Improper lifestyle: Bad habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, excessive sleep and poor dietary choices contribute to making us fat and overweight.

Problems arising from obesity

Listed below are some of the serious health problems related to obesity or being overweight:

Diabetes: This is the most common health problem associated with obesity. Obesity makes our bodies resistant to insulin, which leads to Type-2 diabetes.

Heart Disease: Excessive weight can lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol, two major factors responsible for increased damage to the heart that may eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Osteoarthritis: This is a common joint condition mostly affecting the knees, hips, or back. Obese people have extra mass, which exerts increased pressure on these joints and leads to wearing of the cartilage that protects the joints.

Gout: This disease affects the joints and is mainly caused by the presence of excess uric acid in the bloodstream. The uric acid leads to the formation of crystals that then get deposited in the joints.

Cancers: There is strong medical evidence that people who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of developing up to 11 different cancers. These include bowel, rectal and colon cancer, specifically linked to the consumption of excess meat and fatty foods. Indeed, obesity-related cancers may soon overtake lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. In short, many obese people will develop cancer that could have been prevented if they had paid more attention to exercise and diet.

Key measures to combat obesity

Aspire park. Photo credit:

The problem of obesity and overweight can be kept in check if we follow certain preventative measures. Some of these are listed below:

Balanced diet: The foremost step to prevent obesity is to have a balanced diet. Your diet should include healthy and nutrient-rich food such as dairy products, fruits, vegetables, meat, etc. Fast foods and processed foods such as microwave ready meals foods should be avoided as much as possible.

Physical exercise: You must undertake some form of physical activity and exercises. Your daily routine can include activities like exercises, aerobics, swimming, jogging, or even simply walking. Many beautiful parks with green spaces are dotted around Doha, for example Aspire park, Bidda park etc. Outdoor exercise equipment also have been installed in different parks to encourage residents in Qatar to get active. So visit one of them and turn any park into a free gym!

Periodical health check-up: Doctors recommend having a health checkup once in every year in order to prevent health-related problems due to obesity. The regular checkup will help in early detection of any disease so that necessary treatment can be done before it becomes serious.

Obesity treatments in Qatar:

Photo credit: Hamad Medical Corporation

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) offers cutting edge treatment options for patients dealing with weight-related diseases. The National Obesity Treatment Center under the auspices of the Qatar Metabolic Institute is a patient-centered clinic for comprehensive weight management.

Located in Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City (building 311) the Bariatric and Medical Weight Management Service delivers holistic, multidisciplinary care for patients with obesity and complications such as diabetes.

Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, the Minister of Public Health stated: “The new National Obesity Center reinforces our commitment as a country to providing effective and compassionate care for the prevention of weight-related diseases as outlined in the National Health Strategy. This is especially important in Qatar, where we are faced with some of the highest levels of metabolic complications resulting from obesity and diabetes.”

What is more, a new subcutanious medicine has been introduced in Qatar to help people with overweight or obese problem to slim down as well as prevent from developing other chronic diseases.

Saxenda, a product of Novo Nordisk, is indicated as an adjunct to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or who are overweight with at least one weight-related comorbidity. The medicine is now being prescribed for some patients at the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and also available at private hospitals and clinics.

What measures are you taking to control your weight? Let us know in the comments section below. And don't forget to like and share this article!