Dubai: While oil has made Saudis richer it has also brought about lifestyle changes that has led to severe obesity in over 70 per cent of its population, according to a media report.
In the world`s dominant oil power, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), have become rampant as a result of increasing prosperity and the socio-economic transformation, citing a report by National Commercial Bank (NCB), Emirates 24/7 reported.
The epidemiological profile of Saudi Arabia includes high incidences of obesity, hypertension and diabetes mellitus, particularly Type-2, the report said.
The latter has been the leading cause of cardiovascular disease, kidney failures and amputations.
The complications caused by these diseases will increase long-term costs, further burdening an already over-stretched health care system, it said.
It cited another report by the World Health Organisation which determined that both men’s and women’s estimated mean Body Mass Index (BMI) in the Kingdom scored 26.6 kg/m2 and 28 kg/m2, respectively in 2010.
A BMI score above 25 kg/m2 is indicative of an overweight populace and that above 30 kg/m2 denotes obesity, according to the report.
"Saudis accounted for 97 per cent of the total visits to the Saudi ministry of health (MoH) centres related to diabetes. This figure omits all other diabetes related complications such as cardiovascular diseases," the report said.
"The economic burden associated with the disabilities and loss of life caused by diabetes will escalate, should the lifestyle not adjust," it warned.
NCB cited figures by the World Bank showing that Saudi Arabia spends much on the health sector, with such allocations representing 3.3 per cent of the country`s 2008 GDP.