'Diabesity Epidemic' in the Gulf

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Fraser Clarke

Shocking new figures have shown that the number of diabetics in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will grow by 110% by 2045.

According to the statistics, published ahead of January’s Arab Health summit, only Africa is set to see a higher growth in the percentage of people battling the condition - with it projected to rise by a staggering 156%.

Diabetes is already a major issue in the Middle East, with the region home to some of the world’s highest rates of the condition.

Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE already have some of the highest prevalence rates globally - with the economic burden expected to reach $35.5bn by 2045.

This, along with skyrocketing obesity rates, has been called the Gulf’s ‘Diabesity Epidemic’, and experts have been quick to highlight the major reasons for the issues.

Hyper-urbanisation has created an environment built with transportation, not pedestrians in mind, whilst traditionally sedentary lifestyle are now being compounded by unhealthy diets and an increasing reliance on sugary treats and junk food.

Speaking about the issues, and his hopes for the upcoming conference, Arab Health Exhibition Director, Ross Williams, said: “With health professionals and researchers considering ‘Diabesity’ as potentially the greatest epidemic in human history, the advancement of communication technology, telehealth and the application of Artificial Intelligence is now playing a critical role in management of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and obesity. 

“The economic and societal impact of the epidemic is a catalyst for the entire healthcare industry to come together to offer collective solutions to this global problem.”

“The Diabetes Conference at Arab Health is the perfect platform to bring together all stakeholders - from government authorities to the region’s leading diabetes experts - to assess the various public health measures and technological advancements  that can be adopted in order to tackle the growing burden of this epidemic.”

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