High rates of obesity in Saudi Arabia behind diabetes and heart disease

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Obesity or illness of civilized societies, as some like to call it, is a disease that penetrated mankind and its spread is like a wildfire that is now threatening the entire community. In ancient times it rarely befitted doctors to talk about this disease because it was rare, and even our ancestors did not have a problem that is as severe as we see today because people mostly were slender and did not suffer from obesity or any of its complications (diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol).

The changing dietary habits from one generation to another, in addition, to the entry of many of the ingredients in all types of food, like retailers snacks, are all factors that contributed directly to the spread of obesity.


Today there are many countries such as America, where 50% of its adult population suffers from obesity. Japan has 30% obesity issues, Western countries 33%, Saudi Arabia more than 70%, and the Gulf states more than 60%. In such countries doctors and specialists call people to abandon their dietary bad habits and return to diets rich in natural vegetables, vegetable fiber, proteins, and to refrain from having stimulants, such as coffee, and smoking.

The more advanced the humans became, newer diseases emerged that were not in the past. This is a result of the downside of modern technology, ease of work and stay for long periods in front of TV or computer and dispensing walk — breeding laziness and lethargy — while relying on rest and losing vitality and activity of the body.

So we tried to address the subject (obesity) in a scientific way that’s unique and unusual, and to explore aspects of the disease, trying to take in all features of the definition through causes, symptoms, dangers and treatment of all kinds.

Incidence of obesity

It was found that: 72.4% of Saudis over the age of 40 suffer from obesity, and 35.6% in Saudi society, of whom 44% are women and 26.4% of men, are obese. The rate of obesity among Saudi children of about 18%.

While the rate in Egypt is 35.6% of women and around 7.11% of the men. But in Mexico, the proportion in general in all the races is about 58%. Generally note that the incidence of obesity in women is (58% _60%), in men 17% while in kids about 1.8%.

Many nutritionists have issued warnings about the spread of the prevalence of obesity in the Kingdom. Obesity has been discussed in the framework of the problems that increase the incidence of serious diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes that raise the proportion of deaths.

The negative social impacts of obesity:

  1. Embarrassment of excess weight, obesity and wishing for thinness
  2. The stigma of other derogatory remarks
  3. Low self-esteem
  4. Eating disorders. There are several eating disorders include bulimia and eating in large quantities in a short time and a sense of regret and self-blame.
  5. Mood disorders. They fluctuate from severe depression to a sense of joy and pleasure sometimes.

Economic consequences of obesity

Economic consequences of obesity are divided into two:

1. Consequences for the patient

Overspending begins on fast food among these people, especially children and young people in the form of almost daily eating of fast foods. Then spend on the various nutrition programs, which usually take a long time, as well as sports programs. The amount of spending on these programs depend on the physical condition of the person without taking into account the feasibility of these programs to reach the desired weight.

2. Consequences on society

The community is harmed from low giving and productivity of people, who suffer from obesity, especially if it is accompanied with health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure, arthritis, resulting in frequent absence from work.

Ideal start for treatment

Including that obesity is a key factor in serious diseases of this era, we should have to deal with it as a disease, not a guide to modern luxury, as some imagine, especially that complications are many.

Doctors advices for obese generally are to get rid of obesity, reduce junk food beside exercise. These are traditional recipes but are not enough to end the suffering of people with obesity.

There are other influential factors that cannot be ignored or neglected. The mental state associated with eating and the importance of daily sport and a personal desire to reduce weight of the injured with internal belief that health is a crown on our heads.

The diet system needs to plan a frame work with several strategies chosen by the patient with the treating doctor in the presence of a specialist for follow-up after feeding and continuing throughout the specified period to reach the target weight.

It also noted everybody not to generalize that all fast food are unhealthy and healthy balanced food is a key factor for the body construction of pure spiritual souls.

Food is a means and not a target, it is the source of happiness in our lives, and so must be, otherwise it will be a burden to us.

Safe Dieting

The type II diabetes is directly linked to obesity than other types (hereditary diabetes and gestational diabetes). The fact that the first is chronic and the other linked to the period of pregnancy.

The proportion of obesity in the Kingdom increased recently to nearly 70% and that this proved to be an harbinger of an increase in heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

In the world, the figure of obese people is scary to some extent and has exceeded 300 million people, a number that could increase the diabetics in the world, which is a key factor in the increased incidence of strokes.

Modern science played an important role in finding radical solutions to this problem in two ways. First in critical, severe obesity to allow surgical intervention and secondly — is most common — following proper diet and the use of pharmacological treatments, which is characterized by being safe and that limits the absorption of fat. For example Orlistat (Xenical) has proved its effectiveness and influence to treat obesity.

The almost daily sports is lifestyle which we should be practicing without fail because of its role in improving physical and the psychological mood of the patient.

And we’re back to the argument that might make it a slogan to us that health is the crown on the heads of healthy people and proper food is soul food. Follow the words of God Almighty: (eat and drink and do not overspend).

*This article was first published in the Health section of Saudi Gazette.

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