Obesity on the Rise in North Africa
Despite the fact that there is little scientific data on the phenomenon of obesity in the Arab world, it is clear that the issue has become a serious health problem, affecting both rich and poor countries. But North Africa is no exception.
Experts say that lifestyle changes are behind the increase of obesity in North African countries and the Oil-rich Gulf monarchies. Rapid urbanization and the new technologies introduced in everyday life make living conditions comfortable and encourage sedentary lifestyles.
Thanks to the wide use of private cars and public transportation, more & more people and households are engaged in less physical activities, spending much of their time sitting on couches or sofas watching TV or playing latest video games.
The rapid spread of fast-food restaurants and outlets with enticing banner ads implanted at each corner of the street and appetizing advertisements during popular television viewing times are also to be blamed. Children are easy targets. Due to their frequent snacking, skipping breakfast, sugary beverages and eating outside.
A study by academics from Harvard and Cambridge Universities finds that high calorie and fat intakes by people in North Africa, a region where exercise is not part of the culture, contribute to exacerbating weight gain and increasing overweight and obese populations.
Hence, one out of ten people in this region turns out to be obese or overweight, says the study, sounding the alarm bell that this proportion might expand and hit dangerous levels particularly among children and adults (risk groups) if the issue of obesity is left unchecked or continues to be ignored.
According to the World Health Organization latest figures, there are currently over 1.6 billion people overweight and 400 million obese. By the year 2015, 2.3 billion people will be overweight and 700 million will be obese, warns the WHO. And if nothing is done to reverse the epidemic trend, more than 1 billion adults are projected to be obese by 2030.