A study has shown that obesity is costing Saudi Arabia $19 billion annually and has speculated that the issue could scale up to $78 billion by 2060.
According to the study conducted by World Obesity Federation and RTI and published by the British Medical Journal, obesity consumes 2.4% of the oil-rich kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The Gulf state has an obesity rate of 35%, which puts pressure on the medical sector. It also results in negative work productivity and premature deaths.
Saudi Arabia was selected as part of the study as it has “among the highest rates of adult and child obesity in the world,” Johanna Ralston, CEO of the World Obesity Federation, told Arab News on Friday.
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The study notes that the cause of obesity in the Gulf country not only stems from individuals, but has “social, biological and environmental drivers”.
Many Gulf countries share the same issue of high obesity rates, according to Ralston.
Hailing the Saudi government initiatives to deal with obesity, Ralston stressed that obesity must be addressed on government and society levels by supporting the people to live healthier lives.
“Governments must urgently implement comprehensive policies that improve access to cheap, nutritious foods and affordable healthcare, and allow their citizens to live balanced lives free of stress and adverse events,” she added.