Obesity and Overweight Prevalence in Kuwait
Healthy Lifestyle in Kuwait: Obesity and Overweight Prevalence
This report discusses the obesity and overweight as the critical health lifestyle issues in Kuwait. The two conditions calls for immediate intervention from the policy makers, heath system and individual efforts to curb the prevalence. Kuwait government is aiming at creating healthy society by encouraging people to adopt healthy lifestyle habits and aboding cultures that have proved to be causes to obesity and overweight. The report findings confirms that obesity and overweight in Kuwait are mainly caused by high income, low education, genetic relations, marriages, hereditary lifestyle and fast food culture. These indicate that the prevalence usually starts at the lower age and as the adolescents enters adulthood they are either obese or overweight. The report recommends that influencing people for behavioral change by observing health diet will be ideal for curbing the fast increasing prevalence.
This report examines the status of a healthy lifestyle in Kuwait. The existing literature shows that the region has been recording the increasing cases of obesity and overweight that cuts across all ages and genders. World Health Organization ranks Kuwait among the leading countries experiencing obesity prevalence. The study by Weiderpass et al. (2019) showed that in 2014 about 8 in ten adults in Kuwait were overweight or obese. An almost similar study carried by Alkazemi (2019) on college students established that about over one-third of the students were above the bodyweight with 22.7 per cent student being overweight and 15.7 per cent students being obese. Alrashidi, Shahwan-Akl, James, & Jones (2015) researched on factors contributing to childhood obesity and overweight and found that out of 635 children used as study sample, 36.5 per cent were obese and 25.5 per cent were overweight. The current literature shows that a healthy lifestyle is a critical issue in Kuwait, begging the questions:
1. What is the current healthy lifestyle status in Kuwait?
2. What are the factors contributing to an unhealthy lifestyle?
3. What are government measures to promote a healthy lifestyle in the country?
The report is presented in 3 main sections: background, analysis and conclusion and recommendations. The background sections presents the current situation of health life style in Kuwait. It starts by defining the terms of reference, that is, statement of the background, objectives and the purpose of the report. The background sections also provides the bigger context of the topic, including the historical development of the issue, recent developments, why the topic is important, the affected segment of the society and who are interested in the findings of the report. The analysis section discusses the data from the five sources regarding the several aspects surrounding health lifestyle in Kuwait. The report culminates with conclusion from the analysis and recommendations on how to address the health lifestyle issue in Kuwait.
Unhealthy weight is a major concern in Kuwait largely contributed to by unhealthy lifestyle. Kuwait was in 2013 ranked by the FSI as the country with the highest number of obese people- 42.8 percent (Badr, Shah, & Shah, 2014). Over the years, the number of obese people has been growing rapidly in all ages among both males and females. Obesity is a leading cause of diabetes and hypertension not only in Kuwait but also internationally. In Kuwait, approximately 50 percent of the people aged 45 years and above are living with diabetes (Badr, Shah, & Shah, 2014). Globally, obesity has been ranked the fifth leading risk factor for death. Over 2.8 million people die annually on a global scale as a result of conditions linked to obesity (Badr, Shah, & Shah, 2014). Children in Kuwait are at a high risk of developing diabetes in than in most countries as they follow through the example set by the adults. This report aims at establishing the status of health lifestyle in Kuwait. The paper also explores the factors that that contribute to unhealthy lifestyle and the government interventions to promote a healthy lifestyle in Kuwait. The purpose of this report is to generate major insights about the status of healthy lifestyle in Kuwait which would help in developing major strategies towards improving. The constantly raising numbers of obese individuals implies that the existing interventions are not adequate or effective in addressing the issue.Concerns about a healthy lifestyle are normally linked to body fitness. Body fitness is defined by BMI which tends to be higher among the individuals who are overweight. Despite the overemphasis of healthy lifestyles in the past few decades, some nations are yet to heed to the advice and continue to languish in high rates of overweight citizens. Kuwait is among the countries whose levels of overweight citizens are alarming. The country is popularly known for its wealth and diverse food tastes and is aspiring to become a leader in the food industry. The food culture in Kuwait exists amidst major lifestyle concerns. The residents in the country face life-threatening conditions which have been linked to unhealthy lifestyles which have been passed from one generation to another in the past few decades. The figure of obese adults in Kuwait is estimated to be 39.7-42.8 percent in the entire adult population (Sabban, 2015). Unfortunately, it is not only the adults who are obese in Kuwait. The rate of unhealthy weight could be higher among the young population. The rapid increase of the cases of overweight in the country reveal that the citizens hardly observe healthy lifestyle. Increased weight is mostly attributed to the intake of excessive food quantities, sedentary lifestyle and consumption of high calorie meals.
Although Kuwait is not involved in many Agricultural activities, the populations in the country enjoy extreme levels of food abundance. The availability of food is partially responsible for the alarming rates of obesity. Diet plays a key role in the development of obesity. Over the years, the Kuwaitis have exhibited poor eating habits characterized by high calorie levels. Apart from the consumption of high calorie meals, Kuwaitis lack a regular meal pattern and take meals any time including at night which further exposes them to being obese. The rapid growth of the fast food industry plays a key role in sustaining the poor eating habits in Kuwait. The fast foods are cheaply and easily available in most food joints in Kuwait. Social media influence is currently a worrying cause of obesity in Kuwait. The social media is often used by influencers to shape the eating habits of the Kuwaitis. F & B for instance has huge social media following especially from the teenagers who end up picking all the suggestions offered by the restaurant chain (Bzduchova, 2018). The absence of policies to safeguard the citizens is a predisposing factor that makes the populations even more susceptible. Most people end up falling into the fast foods traps suggested on the popular social networking sites.
The issue of obesity in Kuwait is linked the historical roots. The existing literature attaches the challenge to the oil wealth in the country and the penetration of American food in the country’s food industry. Kuwait is ranked among the top wealthiest nations globally, a title that it has maintained for quite some long. The financial affluence in the country drives people into comfort, ignorance and laziness. With only a population of 3.4 million people, the small country generates high annual revenues capable of sustaining the luxurious lives of most citizens. The country enjoys a Gross National Income per capita of $52,610 (Badr, Shah, & Shah, 2014). Before becoming a global leading oil supplier, Kuwait was relatively poor and dependent on diving, fishing and gathering. The financial affluent has resulted into the opening of luxurious restaurant chains. Food complexes are evenly distributed in the country even in the locations that are remote. Most food outlets offer junk food which most people have always opted for. Although the country has made huge investments in the health sector, the improvements have only worked best in lengthening the unhealthy lifestyles of the Kuwaitis. The life expectancy has rose to 77 years among the men and 79 years among the women. By 2050, it is estimated that the older population (65+ years) will make up to a quarter of the entire population (Badr, Shah, & Shah, 2014). Clearly, the improved health standards in Kuwait harbors the further development of unhealthy lifestyles.
Health lifestyle is currently a major concern in Kuwait affecting people from all backgrounds. It is however more prevalent among the women than men (Alkazemi, 2019). The impacts of unhealthy lifestyle have major implications to the government and the health sector. The government is investing more than necessary in the health sector to deal with conditions which are lifestyle-related. The burden of disease in Kuwait is largely contributed to by unhealthy lifestyle. Findings in the report are relevant to the policy makers in the country and the general public. The policy makers may develop some strategies based on this report in the containment of unhealthy lifestyle. The general public upon noticing the prevalence of obesity and overweight may rethink their choices in life and consider better lifestyle practices.
Kuwait currently is facing serious healthy lifestyle issues that have been manifested through increased obesity, overweigh and chronic diseases among the populations. The survey conducted by Weiderpass, et al. (2019) established that the prevalence of obesity and overweight among both men and women in Kuwait is increasing rapidly. In fact it was revealed that the cases obesity and overweight are extremely high and among the highest reported globally. In the study results, only 24 per cent of women and 22 per cent of men had a BMI of less than 25kg/m2, while 44 percent of the women and 37 per cent of the men were obese (Weiderpass, et al., 2019). In both genders the prevalence of overweight and obesity was associated with self-reported diabetes, being married and age. Among the men, being physically inactive, being a smoker, having employment and having low educational level was either associated with obesity or overweight. Women were found to register lower cases of obesity as the level of education increased. The prevalence of obesity and overweight in Kuwait cannot be ignored as they have contributed to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, hypertension and cognitive decline. With the obesity and overweight having a rate of 75 per cent and above, it sets potential serious health issues that should be addressed immediately to protect the population and communities from critical chronic diseases.
Figure 1: Prevalence of Obesity and Overweight among Kuwait Citizens for the last 5 Years (2014 -2019)
The prevalence of obesity and overweight in Kuwait cut across all ages among both adult women and men. Based on the above graphical representation, 60 per cent the obesity and overweight prevalence is reported among the population between 18 and 25 years. This means as the citizens reaches adulthood the conditions of obesity and overweight are already established. The results from thus graph agrees with the research by Alkazemi (2019) that established the incidents of obesity and overweight among the Kuwait college students was quite high. The study confirmed that more than one-third of the study participants were above the average body weight with 22.7 percent being overweight and 15.7 per cent being obese. Further, the study carried by Alrashidi, Shahwan-Akl, James, & Jones (2015)on the factors contributing to obesity and overweight among children attested the cases of the conditions were quite high among the children aged between 11 and 14 years. Out of 635 children who participated in the study 36.5 percent were obese while 25.5 percent were overweight. The widespread of the obesity and overweight is a healthy lifestyle issue that is widespread among all the ages. The health lifestyle challenge facing Kuwait presents itself as the condition that start at family level and increase the population continues to age.
Figure2: Increasing Trend of Obesity in Kuwait
Obesity in Kuwait has taken an increasing curve as portrayed by the graph above. The trend presents the condition as the prevalence as it seems ad the time goes the condition is increasing instead of increasing. This might be associated with three factors: genetics, environment and nutrition that determines human health and survival as discussed by (Sabban, 2015). The first factor holds that a some diseases have genetics basis and cannot be controlled. The next second factor, which is environment which can be either within the control or beyond control of the affected population. Finally, the nutrition determines the healthy lifestyle by observing health dietary practices that Kuwait citizens might not be doing. With current healthy lifestyle being associated with obesity and overweight, it is important to understand the contributing factors. The research by Alrashidi, Shahwan-Akl, James, & Jones (2015) found that the causes of obesity and overweight starts at the early age of the populations. The leading factors of the causes of obesity were sedentary life styles, fast food consumption, low level education, families with histories of high cholesterol and diabetes, higher family income, eating habits and cultural influences. These factors presents the leading causes of obesity and overweight as behavioral based rather than as a result of weak body immunity.
Figure 3: Leading Causes of Overweight and Obesity in Kuwait
The results presented above agrees with the three sources used on this report on the causes of obesity and overweight in Kuwait. It is apparent that determinants of whether Kuwait citizen will be above the average bodyweight are sociodemographic, social cultural, lifestyle, dietary, and hereditary (Alrashidi, Shahwan-Akl, James, & Jones, 2015; Alkazemi, 2019; Weiderpass, et al., 2019). The three sources presents the specific causes that can be directly linked with the above determinants.
The prevalence of obesity and overweight in the country has seen government set up measures to counteract the health issue. For example, in 2013 after the increased cases of obesity and overweight the government of Kuwait was forced to intervene. The assessment by the government found that this health lifestyle cut with across different segments of the society. As a result the government established various health promotion strategies that can be applied in different elements that have proved to the be leading causes of obesity and overweight prevalence (Behbehani, 2014). The government established measures to encourage healthy living in the workplace, schools, religious centers and practice, for the elderly, in malls, in food market and in media.
The government intervention to rescue the society is based on environmental, behavioral and physiology factors. The health promotion strategies suggested by the Kuwait government are aimed at encouraging people to observe healthy life style to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart-related diseases. The figure 4 below illustrates Kuwait government attempts to instill the culture of healthy lifestyle in the county.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The findings in this report imply that efforts should be channeled towards promoting a healthy lifestyle among the young population in Kuwait. This implication is congruent with the recommendation by WHO which lays emphasis on the implementation of policies that encourage the adoption of healthy lifestyles during the entire life course. The best strategies of addressing overweight in Kuwait are improving health education, boosting behavioral interventions, regulating the fast food industry and setting up public policies that favor a healthy lifestyle. Currently, the Ministry of Health in Kuwait is actively involved addressing childhood obesity. Other firms need to join the MOH in developing and funding programs which support healthy lifestyle. The most effective means of addressing obesity in Kuwait is by mitigating its chances of occurrence at the earlier stages in life.
Alkazemi, D. (2019). Gender differences in weight status, dietary habits, and health attitudes among college students in Kuwait: A cross-sectional study. Nutrition and Health, 25(2), 75-84. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0260106018817410
Alrashidi, M., Shahwan-Akl, James, L., & Jones, L. K. (2015). Contributing Factors to Childhood Overweight and Obesity in Kuwait. International Journal of Health Sciences, 3(4), 133-155. Retrieved from http://ijhsnet.com/journals/ijhs/Vol_3_No_1_March_2015/8.pdf
Badr, H. E., Shah, N. M., & Shah, M. A. (2014). Obesity Among Kuwaitis Aged 50 Years or Older: Prevalence, Correlates, and Comorbidities. The Gerontologist, 555–566.
Behbehani, K. (2014). Kuwait National Programme for Healthy Living: First 5-Year Plan (2013–2017). Medical Principles and Practice, 23(1), 32–42. Retrieved from https://extranet.who.int/countryplanningcycles/sites/default/files/planning_cycle_repository/kuwait/kuwait_national_programme_for_healthy_living_2013-2017.pdf
Bzduchova, D. (2018, February 18). Educating Kuwait About Healthy Lifestyle – Is It Too Late? Retrieved from CP Magazine.
Sabban, F. E. (2015). Nutrition in health and disease: a Kuwaiti societal perspective representing the gulf cooperation council countries. Journal of Nutritional Health & Food Engineering, 2(5), 147-151. Retrieved from https://medcraveonline.com/JNHFE/nutrition-in-health-and-disease-a-kuwaiti-societal-perspective-representing-the-gulf-cooperation-council-countriesnbsp.html
Weiderpass, E., Botteri, E., Longenecker, J. C., Alkandari, A., Al-Wotayan, R., Al Duwairi, Q., & Tuomilehto, J. (2019). The Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in an Adult Kuwaiti Population in 2014. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne), 10(449), 1-9. doi:10.3389/fendo.2019.00449