Qatar, with a population of merely 1.6 million, is definitely a small country. But on the other hand, it is a very wealthy country. Its capita gross domestic product ranks second in the world and it has the third-largest proven reserves of natural gas.
The privileged and luxury lifestyle supported by the wealth also creates serious health problems related to obesity, diabetes and genetic disorder for Qatar, together with its neighbors like Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Despite of being small, Qatar is among the greatest prevalence of obesity, diabetes and genetic disorders in the world. Figures provided by the International Association for the Study of Obesity indicated that Qatar has the sixth largest number of obese in the world and has a highest rate of obesity among boy in the Middle East and North African region. Qatar also has the fifth largest number of diabetics for the age ranges 20 to 79, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
As predicted the Qatari health experts, 73 percent of Qatari women and 69 percent of the men would qualify as obese within the next 5 years (from 2010). Obesity can lead to development of diabetes, and many other medical ailments including heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke.
Despite all the challenges faced, Qatar has directed their attention to the treatment of diseases instead of focusing on prevention. Such peculiar course of action could only be explained by the Qatari lifestyle and tradition.
For instance, if one has taken lunch and then visit a friend. Very often, the friend will still bring many foods to the table. If one does not eat, the friend would consider it as an insult. In other word, people cannot get together without eating together.
It is understood that a typical Qatari student would skip breakfast, and then eat a snack and lunch at school. When the student returns home, they would be given another lunch, usually heavy meal consisting of rice and lamb. Later in the afternoon, the student will have snack on cake and tea. In the night, they eat dinner, often fast food that is delivered. Attitude can be the other challenge. For the majority of Qatari, there is nothing wrong to be obese.
As regards birth defects (genetic disorder), health experts blame it to consanguineous marriages (marrying within families), a social tradition that the Qatari is determined to hold.