The proportion of obese adults in the Sultanate is expected to increase by an average of 4.2 per cent a year between 2020 and 2035, to an alarming 33 per cent.
Rates in children are forecast to grow by 4.4 per cent per year over this period, to more than 40 per cent, according to a new The World Obesity Atlas 2023 analysis by the World Obesity Federation.
Overweight and obesity are likely to impact the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2.2 per cent.
However, the report said the Sultanate is fairly good in its preparation to tackle the issue and ranked 57th out of 183 countries. The report predicts that the global economic impact of overweight and obesity will reach USD4.32 trillion annually by 2035 if prevention and treatment measures do not improve.
At almost three per cent of global GDP, this is comparable with the impact of COVID-19 in 2020. The majority of the global population (51 per cent, or over four billion people) will be overweight or obese by 2035 if current trends prevail. One in four people (nearly two billion) will have obesity.
Childhood obesity could more than double by 2035 (from 2020 levels). Rates are predicted to double among boys to 208 million and more than double among girls to 175 million (125 per cent increase) and are rising more rapidly among children than adults.
Lower income countries are facing rapid increases in obesity prevalence. Of the 10 countries with the greatest expected increases in obesity globally (for both adults and children), nine of those are from low or lower-middle income countries. All are from either Asia or Africa.
Every single region will see an increase in economic impact by 2035, with the Americas (North, Central and South America) shouldering the highest costs as a proportion of GDP (3.7 per cent) and the Western Pacific region the highest total costs (USD1.56 trillion).
The report emphasises the importance of developing comprehensive national action plans to prevent and treat obesity and support people affected by the disease.
It also acknowledged the impact of climate change, COVID-19 restrictions, new pandemics, and chemical pollutants on obesity and warned that without ambitious and coordinated action to address systemic issues, obesity rates could rise still further.
President of the World Obesity Federation Professor Louise Baur said: “This year’s Atlas is a clear warning that by failing to address obesity today, we risk serious repercussions in the future.
“It is particularly worrying to see obesity rates rising fastest among children and adolescents. Governments and policymakers around the world need to do all they can to avoid passing health, social, and economic costs on to the younger generation.
“That means looking urgently at the systems and root factors that contribute to obesity, and actively involving young people in the solutions. If we act together now, we have the opportunity to help billions of people in the future.”