77% overweight in Kuwait.

Wrong eating habits, inactivity major cause

Director of the Health Promotion Department at the Ministry of Health Dr. Abeer Al-Bahwa insists that the high rate of obesity among the Kuwaiti population, especially those within the age group of 18 to 29 years, and the unusually high prevalence of physical inactivity, necessitate early intervention to reduce and prevent obesity, reports Al-Rai daily. In an interview with KUNA on Saturday, Dr. Al- Bahwa said the statistics reveal a high rate of obesity in Kuwait, which ranks first in the Arab world in this regard. About 77 percent of the population of Kuwait are overweight, with more than 40 percent being obese.

She explained that overweight is a global problem, and its rate is expected to rise above four billion people by 2035 compared to more than 2.6 billion in 2020. This reflects an increase in the percentage of obesity from 38 percent of the world’s population in 2020 to more than 50 percent by 2035. Obesity is expected to be more severe among children and adolescents, affecting about 10 percent to 20 percent of boys in the world during the period between 2020 and 2035, and about eight to 18 percent of girls globally. Kuwait is not immune from these rates.

Obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Estimates show that obesity is the fifth major risk factor for death, due to which there is a dire need for efforts to reduce its prevalence. There are symptoms associated with obesity in children, including shortness of breath, general fatigue, increased sweating, difficulty breathing during sleep, snoring, joint pain, esophageal reflux, early puberty in girls and delayed puberty in boys.

The causes of obesity in children are wrong eating habits, physical inactivity, genetic factors, intestinal flora that affects the functioning of the intestines and the immune system, in addition to hypothyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome.

According to statistics by Kuwait and that of the World Health Organization, one in five adults in the Gulf region suffers from obesity. It is expected that the obesity rate among adults in Kuwait will reach 52 percent by 2035. Obesity in children causes a number of complications, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol in the blood, liver diseases, bone and joint pain, respiratory disorders, eating disorders, and social and psychological problems.

Treatment of obesity in children requires multidisciplinary treatment and is based on nutritional education, physical training, training with groups, treatment sessions with a psychiatrist when needed, weekly training sessions at home, and treatment for some health conditions such as diabetes and hypothyroidism. Surgeries that target the stomach and intestines in order to lose weight are considered as a treatment option for adolescents only, but they will not replace diet and exercise. It is just an initial step that helps the teenager start a weightloss program.

Preventing obesity in children is an important matter that falls on parents through a set of steps, including eating patterns, avoiding fast food, eating vegetables, fruits and whole grains, controlling meal portions, eating low-fat foods, and replacing soft drinks with water, natural juice and low-fat milk. Dr. Al-Bahwa stressed the importance of physical activity, identifying a consistent sleep routine, and spending more time with the family away from television and computer games, adding that it is preferable to find alternative family activities that are fun and entertaining for children.

She highlighted the importance of the participation of the various departments of the Ministry of Health in health awareness programs, along with developing strategies and action plans for reducing obesity, and physical inactivity among the population, and integrating compulsory physical education into school curricula. Dr. Al-Bahwa insisted on the need to encourage the establishment of public parks and recreational spaces to promote physical activities that may play a vital role in the early prevention of obesity among children in Kuwait. She concluded by saying that the Health Promotion Department is conducting continuous campaigns to reduce the spread of obesity, with the cooperation of several departments, and through community partnership with entities outside the ministry to reduce the high rate of obesity in the next five years.

Source- Arab Times.

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