Monday, 17 June 2013

Saudi, Diabetes & Junk Food....

I’ve been struck in my time in the Kingdom at the problem of obesity here, just on visual evidence, there is a larger than normal proportion of adults that are clearly overweight, I have discovered that the result of all this is that Saudi Arabia has the world’s highest prevalence of Diabetes, with figures between 25% - 30% of adults having the condition. Studies are calling it an epidemic...

Diet and lack of exercise are given as major factors in Diabetes and this is clearly evident living here. The over-bearing conditions and urbanization of the country in the last 30 years have made the cities very “car orientated” with very few public parks or pedestrian areas to walk and exercise has made people much more sedentary.

I have only seen about three areas in the city where you could actually go for a walk, and that’s in a city with over five million inhabitants, cycling here would be like playing Russian roulette as there are no lanes or parks to cycle and even less driving skills and etiquette on the road.

Saudi culture is also not necessarily supportive of women exercising and sport among females is seen as taboo, remember all the media noise about the first Saudi female athletes at the last Olympics, this means that it’s not at all straight forward for females to exercise in any kind of open manner though I understand that this is changing…

The other major factor here is diet and as I shop regularly here in Riyadh, I’m completely taken aback at the sheer volume of chocolate, cakes, and sugar laden food on the shopping shelves, its actually startling, the picture above was taken in a typical Riyadh Supermarket….shelves and shelves of the stuff……


Saudi Arabia, having been very influenced by American culture is also overrun with Fast Food outlets, they are literally everywhere in every city, McDonalds, Dunkin-Donuts are on every street and every mall and you have to look a bit harder to find the healthier options…… 

I'm not saying that I know better as I've seen similar issues back home in Ireland but here given the culture and climate is certainly at a different scale and is something that definitely needs to be tackled.......