Sunday, January 19, 2014

Obesity in Qatar

Wealth has its drawbacks. An article in the Peninsula today noted the soaring rates of obesity in adolescents in Qatar.

I knew there were issues but the numbers were surprising (though I think the English has some errors):

The large cross-sectional study involving a total of 1,167 female and male students (14-20 years) from 23 independent schools showed that 59.9 percent of Qatari adolescents were obese and 57 percent overweight against 40.1 percent and 43 percent of non-Qataris.

I'm not sure how the percentages work. If 59.9% of Qataris are obese then 40.1% are not obese, not that 40.1% of non-Qataris are obese. I'm also not sure what the definitions of overweight and obese are. If 57% are overweight and 59.9% are obese does that mean "obese" includes everyone who is overweight? The numbers are more than 100% if added together. It's confusing to me.

Anyway let's go with the number that matters, almost 60% of Qatari adolescents are obese. For comparison, but just be warned that the same definition of obese might not be used in the two studies, the rate in the US is 17%.

Again it depends on if the same definition was used for the Qatari study as the CDC study. 60% is a very high number so maybe the Qatar study used a broader meaning of obese. Both studies used BMI as the indicator but I’m not sure what the cut-off was to be considered obese in the Qatar study.

The usual culprits are likely responsible. Sedentary lifestyle and plenty of high-fat high-calorie food like fast food. In Qatar fast food restaurants like McDonalds even deliver so you don’t have to leave your house to get fast food, just call.

I don't have a solution, and I don't know if the study's authors do either.

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