The high prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases among GCC women is a "ticking time bomb", researchers say.

Doctors warn Gulf women face 'ticking time bomb' of lifestyle diseases

Study finds 98 per cent of Saudi women walk less than 20 minutes per day

Researchers have described the high prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases among women in the GCC as a “ticking time bomb” that is reaching “alarming levels.”

A team of scholars compiled the results of academic reviews published between 2000 and 2016 to analyse the prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors, including obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, hypertension, smoking and metabolic syndrome, among women in the GCC.

The results should jolt policymakers into more action, said Dr Salman Rawaf, co-author of the study 'The Ticking Time Bomb in Lifestyle-related Diseases Among Women in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries,' published this month in BMC Public Health.

“This is a wake up call,” said Dr Rawaf.

“It is really painful to see so many fellow citizens dying unnecessarily because of government inaction.”

When it comes to obesity among GCC women, for example, the study found the highest prevalence was among the Qatari population where 45.3 per cent of women had a body mass index of 30 or higher, which is how the World Health Organisation defines obesity.

By comparison, the prevalence was 38.4 per cent in Saudi Arabia, 35.2 per cent in Kuwait, 31.3 per cent in the UAE and 29.2 per cent in Oman. The obesity data for Bahrain was not listed.

Part of the obesity problem stems from lack of facilities or access to fitness centres and preventative health care for women in some countries, said Dr Mashael Alshaikh, the study's lead author who is also a Saudi citizen.

“Also, the social norms and the effect of urbanisation, such as importing cheap labour to help the woman in the house, this limits the physical activity, even inside the house,” said Dr Alshaikh.

“Data from the WHO shows that the countries with gender inequality have more health risks, that's why we focused on cardiovascular disease prevention.”

Other factors contributing to obesity among GCC women included the high consumption of fast food, multiple pregnancies and an overall sedentary lifestyle, they said, noting that the level of physical inactivity among women in the GCC is reaching “an alarming level.”

In the UAE, for example, 56.7 per cent of women walked less than...Read more...