By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO
Itâ€™s no secret that bulging bellies and expanding waistlines are on the rise in the Middle East. The oil-rich nation of Kuwait has the highest diabetes rate in the world and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is not far behind. The influx of both European and American fast food chains, as well as processed food products on grocery store shelves, is one of the reasons why. Case in point, tt used to be that Americans were best known for smothering everything, even donuts, in melted cheese. These days, more and more restaurants in the wealthy Gulf region are adding vats of melted cheese to the menu since it has proven to be a hit with diners.
Wealthy Arab nations continue to enjoy surplus oil wealth and have so far evaded a catastrophic economical meltdown. However, the downside of having a strong economy is that people have more expendable wealth. In addition to being able to afford luxury items, people are eating more. And the food choices are not always the healthiest. Staples like kababs and deep-fried falafal are just a few of the fattening foods appearing on most dinner tables. Greasy pizzas and cheeseburgers with the works are other popular choices imported from America. In scores of families – husbands, wives and children are all suffering from rapid weight gain that is difficult to shed.
Everyone knows that losing weight through diet and exercise is the best option to drop extra pounds. However, surgery is the quickest option for people wanting to transform their bodies seemingly over night. In the UAE, weight-related surgeries are becoming the popular choice for weight loss. Carried out by private hospitals and often with a hefty price tag, an increasing number of obese patients are seeking to go under the knife to lose weight quickly.
UAE citizen Kareem Shaheen shared his own story recently with a local newspaper. After years of suffering with weight gain and failing health, he decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery in 2008. With high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate, at the age of twenty-two years, Shaheen knew that surgery was the only way to save his life. Since the surgery, he has lost 23 inches around his waist and has adopted a healthy lifestyle. According to Rashid Hospital, located in the UAE municipality of Dubai, there has been a substantial rise in the number of patients seeking to lose weight surgically. Similarly, the state of Kuwait is also experiencing a similar increase in weight loss surgeries.