DOHA - Up to 70 percent of women and 50 percent of men living in the oil-rich Gulf Arab states are overweight or obese, according to a study released at a seminar in Qatar on Thursday.
"Obesity occurs much more often in women in Gulf states where it affects 50 to 70 percent of married women and 30 to 50 percent of married men," said a study presented by Qatari expert Issam Abd Rabbu at the "Facts About Obesity" seminar.
Rabbu said the problem was also taking a toll on children, "affecting five to 10 percent of pre-school children" at a rate that grows "to 10 to 15 percent of primary school children ... then 20 to 40 percent for secondary school children".
These obesity rates are "much higher than in developed countries", he said in his study, called "Obesity: The Illness of the Century."
He blamed obesity among Gulf women, in part, on "repeated pregnancies without a reasonable interval" of time.
Otherwise, obesity is due to poor nutritional habits and lack of exercise by Gulf residents, Rabbu said.
Rabbu said the statistics in his study covered people suffering from being "overweight, obese, excessively obese and morbidly obese".
Some 32 million people live in the Gulf monarchies - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - and foreigners account for more than a third of the population.