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UAE faces soaring obesity rates, $12 billion annual costs predicted by 2035

Almost 7.5 million people in the UAE are expected to be overweight by 2035.

UAE faces soaring obesity rates, $12 billion annual costs predicted by 2035
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Despite initiatives and health campaigns in the UAE aimed at tackling obesity, including standards of care for obesity management since 2008, the country continues to face increasing numbers of overweight or obese individuals.

At the current rate, nearly 7.5 million people in the UAE are projected to be overweight or obese by 2035. This trend is anticipated to incur costs of around $12 billion per year, according to estimates by the World Obesity Federation.

The federation highlights potential healthcare challenges if urgent action is not taken. Released to mark World Obesity Day, the report reveals that a quarter of adults in the UAE are currently living with obesity, with 22% residing in Dubai. Ajman and Fujairah have recorded the highest rates, reaching 39%.

Also, the findings indicate that nearly 40% of children in the UAE are either obese or overweight, with 7,622 deaths directly linked to excess weight in 2019. Additionally, the federation’s annual World Obesity Atlas projects that the economic repercussions of obesity in the UAE could amount to nearly 5% of GDP by 2035.

“The cost of business as usual with obesity, with fragmented and siloed efforts here as in most countries, means the UAE is expected to see a continued rise in the numbers of people living with obesity and increases in the economic impact of disability and death associated with the disease,” said Johanna Ralston, Chief Executive at the World Obesity Federation.

“The UAE has made a start and, armed with this new data, it is time to take decisive steps on turning the tide on the obesity epidemic,” she added.

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