Gulf governments must declare war on diabetes by imposing a fat tax on junk food to deter consumers, a leading doctor has said.
GCC states must enforce tough measures including fines or outright bans on processed food and drinks if the region’s diabetes epidemic is to be curbed, said Dr Karim Meeran, professor of endocrinology, Imperial College London, UK.
“It is time for governments to step in with policies that encourage healthy behaviour, such as the ban on smoking or fines on smoking which in the UK have proven to have positive effect,” Dr Meeran told delegates at a healthcare conference in Abu Dhabi.
“Policies that encourage people to eat more healthily, exercise more and lead an active lifestyle are now required to divert a diabetes epidemic.”
According to data from the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes is estimated to affect 18.7 per cent of the UAE adult population, the second highest prevalence worldwide.
About 25 percent of Emirati men and almost 40 percent of women in the country are classified as obese.
In Saudi Arabia, the Gulf’s most populous state, more than 12 percent of adults aged between 20 and 79-years-old are diabetic. According to IDF data, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman rank among the top eight countries worldwide for diabetes prevalence.
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