• Overview
  • Obesity prevalence
  • Population breakdowns
  • Drivers
  • Comorbidities
  • Health systems
  • Actions
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Obesity prevalence

Adults, 2018

Survey type:Measured
Age:19+
Sample size:1772
References:The Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System - Annual Report 2018 . Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System. Ministry of Health. https://www.moh.gov.kw/FoodNutrition/KNSSReport2018.pdf (Last accessed 24.07.20)
Notes:Overweight by gender currently unavailable
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2014

Survey type:Measured
Age:18-69
Sample size:4391
Area covered:National
References:Kuwait STEPS Survey 2014
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 2006

Survey type:Measured
Age:20-64
Sample size:2280
Area covered:National
References:Al-Nesf Y, Kamel M, El-Shazly MK, Makboul GM, Sadek AA, El-Sayed AM, El-Fararji A. Kuwait STEPS 2006. Kuwait Minsitry of Health, GCC, WHO 2006
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Adults, 1998-2000

Survey type:Measured
Age:19+
Sample size:9755
Area covered:National
References:Jackson RT, Al-Mousa Z, Al-Raqua M, Prakash P and Muhanna. (2001). Prevalence of coronary risk factors in healthy adult Kuwaitis. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 52:301 - 311
Notes:Not a true representative of the population. Sample were those whose attended the Kuwait Medical Council (KMC) or Public Authority for Social Security (PASS) for a medical check up.
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2018

Survey type:Measured
Age:5-19
Sample size:12298
Area covered:National
References:The Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System - Annual Report 2018 . Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System. Ministry of Health. https://www.moh.gov.kw/FoodNutrition/KNSSReport2018.pdf (Last accessed 24.07.20)
Cutoffs:WHO

Children, 2015

Survey type:Self-reported
Age:13-17
References:Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS), available at https://www.cdc.gov/gshs/countries/index.htm (last accessed 28.04.20)
Notes:WHO cutoffs.
Cutoffs:WHO

Children, 2013-2014

Survey type:Measured
Age:15-18
Sample size:434
Area covered:Subnational
References:Musaiger A.O et al. 2016. Prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents in eight Arab countries: comparison between two international standards (ARABEAT-2). Nutr Hosp. 33(5). pp. 1062-1065.
Notes:IOTF cut-offs used.
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 2012-2013

Survey type:Measured
Age:6-18
Sample size:6574
Area covered:National
References:Elkum, N., Al-Arouj, M., Sharifi, M., Shaltout, A., and Bennakhi, A. (2016) Prevalence of childhood obesity in the state of Kuwait. Pediatric Obesity, 11: e30–e34. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12090
Notes:IOTF cut-offs
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 2010-2011

Survey type:Measured
Age:15-18
Sample size:316
Area covered:Regional
References:Musaiger AO, Al-Mannai M, Tayyem R, Al-Lalla O, Ali EY, Kalam F, Benhamed MM, Saghir S, Halahleh I, Djoudi Z, Chirane M.Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity among Adolescents in Seven Arab Countries: A Cross-Cultural Study. J Obes. 2012;2012:981390. doi: 10.1155/2012/981390. Epub 2012 Sep 18.
Notes:Kuwait City IOTF International Cut Off
Cutoffs:IOTF

Children, 1999-2000

Survey type:Measured
Age:10-14
Sample size:14659
Area covered:National
References:Al-Isa AN. (2004). Body mass index, overweight and obesity among Kuwaiti intermediate school adolescents aged 10 - 14 years. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 58:1273 - 1277.
Notes:This survey did not use Cole et al cut off. Reference for cut off: NCHS (1976 - 1980): Anthropometric reference data and prevalence of overweight. Vital & Health Statistics data from the National Health Survey Series 11, No. 238, DHHS Publication No(PHS)-87-1688, U.S.
Cutoffs:Other

Overweight/obesity by age

Adults, 2018

Survey type:Measured
Sample size:1772
References:The Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System - Annual Report 2018 . Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System. Ministry of Health. https://www.moh.gov.kw/FoodNutrition/KNSSReport2018.pdf (Last accessed 24.07.20)
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2018

Survey type:Measured
Sample size:12298
References:The Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System - Annual Report 2018 . Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System. Ministry of Health. https://www.moh.gov.kw/FoodNutrition/KNSSReport2018.pdf (Last accessed 24.07.20)
Cutoffs:WHO

Children, 2016

Survey type:Measured
Sample size:12396
Area covered:National
References:The Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System. 2016. 2016 Annual Report. Available from: https://www.moh.gov.kw/Renderers/ShowPdf.ashx?Id=62b5708c-d2fa-45a5-b677-c02632ac76a7. [Last accessed 30 January 2019]
Cutoffs:WHO

Overweight/obesity by region

Adults, 2018

Survey type:Measured
Age:19+
Sample size:1772
References:The Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System - Annual Report 2018 . Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System. Ministry of Health. https://www.moh.gov.kw/FoodNutrition/KNSSReport2018.pdf (Last accessed 24.07.20)
Unless otherwise noted, overweight refers to a BMI between 25kg and 29.9kg/m², obesity refers to a BMI greater than 30kg/m².

Children, 2018

Survey type:Measured
Age:5-19
Sample size:12298
References:The Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System - Annual Report 2018 . Kuwait Nutrition Surveillance System. Ministry of Health. https://www.moh.gov.kw/FoodNutrition/KNSSReport2018.pdf (Last accessed 24.07.20)
Cutoffs:WHO

Insufficient physical activity

Adults, 2016

References:Guthold R, Stevens GA, Riley LM, Bull FC. Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1.9 million participants. Lancet 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30357-7

Men, 2016

References:Guthold R, Stevens GA, Riley LM, Bull FC. Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1.9 million participants. Lancet 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30357-7

Women, 2016

References:Guthold R, Stevens GA, Riley LM, Bull FC. Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1.9 million participants. Lancet 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30357-7

Children, 2010

Age:11-17
References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A893?lang=en
Notes:% of school going adolescents not meeting WHO recommendations on Physical Activity for Health, i.e. doing less than 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
Definitions:% Adolescents insufficiently active (age standardised estimate)

Boys, 2010

Age:11-17
References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A893?lang=en
Notes:% of school going adolescents not meeting WHO recommendations on Physical Activity for Health, i.e. doing less than 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
Definitions:% Adolescents insufficiently active (age standardised estimate)

Girls, 2010

Age:11-17
References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A893?lang=en
Notes:% of school going adolescents not meeting WHO recommendations on Physical Activity for Health, i.e. doing less than 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
Definitions:% Adolescents insufficiently active (age standardised estimate)

Average daily frequency of carbonated soft drink consumption

Children, 2009-2015

Survey type:Measured
Age:12-17
References:Beal et al. (2019). Global Patterns of Adolescent Fruit, Vegetable, Carbonated Soft Drink, and Fast-food consumption: A meta-analysis of global school-based student health surveys. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1177/0379572119848287 sourced from Food Systems Dashboard http://www.foodsystemsdashboard.org/food-system

Estimated per-capita fruit intake

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:25+
References:Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation http://ghdx.healthdata.org/
Definitions:Estimated per-capita fruit intake (g/day)

Prevalence of less-than-daily fruit consumption

Children, 2008-2015

Survey type:Measured
Age:12-17
References:Global School-based Student Health Surveys. Beal et al (2019). Global Patterns of Adolescent Fruit, Vegetable, Carbonated Soft Drink, and Fast-food consumption: A meta-analysis of global school-based student health surveys. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1177/0379572119848287. Sourced from Food Systems Dashboard http://www.foodsystemsdashboard.org/food-system
Definitions:Prevalence of less-than-daily fruit consumption (% less-than-daily fruit consumption)

Prevalence of less-than-daily vegetable consumption

Children, 2008-2015

Survey type:Measured
Age:12-17
References:Beal et al. (2019). Global Patterns of Adolescent Fruit, Vegetable, Carbonated Soft Drink, and Fast-food consumption: A meta-analysis of global school-based student health surveys. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1177/0379572119848287 sourced from Food Systems Dashboard http://www.foodsystemsdashboard.org/food-system
Definitions:Prevalence of less-than-daily vegetable consumption (% less-than-daily vegetable consumption)

Average weekly frequency of fast food consumption

Children, 2009-2015

Age:12-17
References:Beal et al. (2019). Global Patterns of Adolescent Fruit, Vegetable, Carbonated Soft Drink, and Fast-food consumption: A meta-analysis of global school-based student health surveys. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1177/0379572119848287 sourced from Food Systems Dashboard http://www.foodsystemsdashboard.org/food-system

Estimated per-capita processed meat intake

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:25+
References:Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation http://ghdx.healthdata.org/
Definitions:Estimated per-capita processed meat intake (g per day)

Estimated per-capita whole grains intake

Adults, 2017

Survey type:Measured
Age:25+
References:Global Burden of Disease, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation http://ghdx.healthdata.org/
Definitions:Estimated per-capita whole grains intake (g/day)

Mental health - depression disorders

Adults, 2015

References:Prevalence data from Global Burden of Disease study 2015 (http://ghdx.healthdata.org) published in: Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Geneva:World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Definitions:% of population with depression disorders

Mental health - anxiety disorders

Adults, 2015

References:Prevalence data from Global Burden of Disease study 2015 (http://ghdx.healthdata.org) published in: Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Geneva:World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Definitions:% of population with anxiety disorders

Oesophageal cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, oesophagus, adults ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, oesophagus, adults ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Breast cancer

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, breast, females, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Colorectal cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, colorectum, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, colorectum, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Pancreatic cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, pancreas, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, pancreas, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Gallbladder cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, gallbladder, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, gallbladder, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Kidney cancer

Men, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, kidney, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, kidney, adults, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Cancer of the uterus

Women, 2018

Age:20+
References:Global Cancer Observatory, Cancer incidence rates http://gco.iarc.fr/ (last accessed 30th June 2020)
Definitions:Estimated age-standardized incidence rates (World) in 2018, cervix uteri, females, ages 20+. ASR (World) per 100,000

Raised blood pressure

Adults, 2015

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A875?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised estimated % Raised blood pressure 2015 (SBP>=140 OR DBP>=90).

Men, 2015

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A875?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised estimated % Raised blood pressure 2015 (SBP>=140 OR DBP>=90).

Women, 2015

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A875?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised estimated % Raised blood pressure 2015 (SBP>=140 OR DBP>=90).

Raised cholesterol

Adults, 2008

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A885
Definitions:% Raised total cholesterol (>= 5.0 mmol/L) (age-standardized estimate).

Men, 2008

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A885
Definitions:% Raised total cholesterol (>= 5.0 mmol/L) (age-standardized estimate).

Women, 2008

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A885
Definitions:% Raised total cholesterol (>= 5.0 mmol/L) (age-standardized estimate).

Raised fasting blood glucose

Men, 2014

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A869?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised % raised fasting blood glucose (>= 7.0 mmol/L or on medication).

Women, 2014

References:Global Health Observatory data repository, World Health Organisation, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.A869?lang=en
Definitions:Age Standardised % raised fasting blood glucose (>= 7.0 mmol/L or on medication).

Diabetes prevalence

Adults, 2017

References:Reproduced with kind permission of IDF, International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 8th edition. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2017. http://www.diabetesatlas.org
Definitions:Diabetes age-adjusted comparative prevalence (%).

Health systems

Economic classification: High Income

Health systems summary

Kuwait has a state-funded health system that is ‘free at the point of entry’ for Kuwaiti nationals. Non-citizens who are resident in Kuwait are entitled to a health insurance card for which they pay an annual fee. The state system provides primary, secondary and tertiary care, though these state services often have long waiting times. As a result, state hospitals are understood to discourage expatriates – who make up approximately two thirds of the Kuwaiti population - from attending, to take the pressure off waiting times. It is mandatory for expatriates to have private healthcare, and so they are encouraged to visit private hospitals.

Historically, the Government were prepared to pay for the cost of overseas medical treatment if treatment were not available locally. This was open to abuse and so recent austerity measures have reduced the numbers obtaining approval for treatment abroad paid for by the government.

Indicators

Where is the country’s government in the journey towards defining ‘Obesity as a disease’?No
Where is the country’s healthcare provider in the journey towards defining ‘Obesity as a disease’?No
Is there specialist training available dedicated to the training of health professionals to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage obesity?No
Have any taxes or subsidies been put in place to protect/assist/inform the population around obesity?No
Are there adequate numbers of trained health professionals in specialties relevant to obesity in urban areas?Some progress
Are there any obesity-specific recommendations or guidelines published for adults?No
Are there any obesity-specific recommendations or guidelines published for children?No
In practice, how is obesity treatment largely funded?Out of pocket

Perceived barriers to treatment

  • Lack of political will, interest and action
  • Lack of training for HCPs and lack of trained HCPs
  • Poor health literacy and behaviour
  • Obesity not recognised as a disease
  • Failure to recognise or accept all available treatment options
  • Lack of evidence, monitoring and research
  • Fragmented or failing health system
  • HCPs disinterest in obesity training / treatments
  • Cultural norms and traditions
  • Lack of opportunity for physical activity

Summary of stakeholder feedback

Kuwait’s health system is said to be suffering some challenges, including poor cross-departmental working and long waiting times between appointments. For obesity specifically, stakeholders suggest that Kuwait needs better cooperation between healthcare departments and more usage of multidisciplinary teams. Where there are obesity clinics, treatment is said to be frequently out- dated, with staff unfamiliar with contemporary treatment strategies.

There are no clear treatment guidelines or protocols for patients with obesity in Kuwait, and stakeholders reported that there were no clear treatment pathways. Resultantly, there was a lack of consensus on the BMI required for treatment and use of treatment appeared irregular. For example, it was reported that Kuwaiti citizens expect pharmaceutical intervention regardless of efficacy, with herbal supplements being particularly popular. Similarly, stakeholders claimed there was excess emphasis on surgery in Kuwait, partly driven by desire for profit rather than health.

Stakeholders reported that obesity in children and adolescents was particularly difficult to treat as parents routinely failed to acknowledge the need for professional care. Stakeholders suggest that healthcare professionals are not trained appropriately, and so often do not know the best ways to approach the parents and how best to treat children and adolescents.

Stakeholders called for more government funding for obesity education for the public and healthcare practitioners, and to ensure that appropriate treatments are available.

Based on interviews/survey returns from 6 stakeholders

Last updated: June 2020

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Actions

Kuwait National Programme for Healthy Living: first 5-year plan (2013-2017)

The Kuwait National Programme for Healthy Living is an initiative to promote the health and well-being for individuals living in the country. The plan has been modified to focus on obesity and diabetes in particular due to the historically high prevalence of these conditions in Kuwait.

Categories:Evidence of Nutritional or Health Strategy/ Guidelines/Policy/Action plan
Categories (partial):Evidence of National Obesity Strategy/Policy or Action
Evidence of Physical Activity Guidelines/Policy
Year(s):2013-2017
Target age group:Adults and children
Organisation:Kuwait Healthy Living
Find out more:www.karger.com
References:Behbehani K, Kuwait National Programme for Healthy Living: First 5-Year Plan (2013-2017). Med Princ Pract 2014;23(suppl 1):32-42.

No actions could be found for the above criteria.

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