Female Obesity Statistics in United Arab Emirates [Updated]

Latest data from the Dubai Health Authority’s 2019 Household Health Survey shows key insights. It states the obesity rate among adults in Dubai is 17.8%. This rate goes up to 21.6% for women and 39.6% for Emirati nationals.1 Of these adults, 39.8% fell into the overweight category, meaning they faced health risks due to their body mass.

This study underlines the significant issue of obesity, especially among Emirati women. It begs the question, what’s causing this problem, and what steps are being taken to solve it?

Key Takeaways

  • The overall prevalence of obesity among adults in Dubai is 17.8%, with the highest rates reported among women at 21.6% and UAE nationals at 39.6%.
  • Additionally, 39.8% of the adult population in Dubai is overweight, with a BMI between 25-29.9 kg/m2.
  • The UAE government has implemented various initiatives, such as the National Nutrition Strategy 2030 and public awareness campaigns, to combat the obesity epidemic.
  • Factors contributing to high obesity rates among Emirati women include sedentary lifestyles, cultural perceptions of body image, and limited access to healthy food options.
  • Addressing the obesity epidemic among Emirati women will require a comprehensive, multifaceted approach targeting individual, community, and societal levels.

Obesity Prevalence Among Emirati Women

Obesity Prevalence Among Emirati Women

In 2019, data from DHHS showed obesity’s high presence in Dubai, especially among women (21.6%) and UAE nationals (39.6%).2 Also, 39.8% in Dubai were overweight, showing a big public health issue.2 The findings highlight the importance of tackling weight problems in Emirati women in Dubai.

National Health Survey Data

Insights from DHHS data into Emirati women’s obesity trends over time are valuable. Current surveys show a high number of overweight and obese adults.2 Previous data also noted rising obesity levels among Emirati females over recent decades, highlighting a continuous challenge.2

This situation calls for ongoing, effective actions to fight the obesity crisis among Emirati women.

Trends in Obesity Rates Over Time

The 2019 DHHS data indicated varying rates of obesity among Emirati women in different parts of Dubai. Certain areas showed higher obesity, suggesting local and environmental factors play a role.2 Age also played a factor, with obesity being most common in the 50-59 age group.2 This information highlights the necessity for focused programs that consider local and age-related factors in obesity.

Regional and Age-Group Variations

Data from 2019 similarly highlighted obesity differences based on region and age among Emirati women in Dubai.

Notably, specific areas had higher obesity rates, indicating possible environmental and economic influences.2 Along with this, a link between age and obesity existed, with 50-59 year olds having the highest risk.2 These variations underscore the need for tailored strategies to combat obesity in different groups of Emirati women.

Risk Factors Contributing to Female Obesity in UAE

The DHHS 2019 survey didn’t look into the eating and living habits of Emirati women causing obesity directly. Yet, older studies and reports show several important risks. These risks in the UAE include not moving much and eating foods high in energy but poor in nutrients2. Also, there are cultural practices of having big, high-calorie meals at social events. Dealing with these habits and ways of living is key to fighting obesity in the UAE.

Socioeconomic and Cultural Influences

The wealth and culture where people live can affect how likely Emirati women are to be obese. Those with lower incomes or from specific cultural groups face a greater obesity risk. It’s because certain UEA cultures view bigger body sizes differently and have less access to healthy foods and chances for exercise. These issues add to why more women in these groups are obese.

Genetic and Metabolic Predispositions

It’s not just about what you eat and do. Some people may be more likely to become obese due to their genes. Research shows that certain Emirati genetic types and body processes are linked to a higher obesity risk. They also raise the chances of getting certain diseases like type 2 diabetes2. Understanding how these biological and outside factors work together is vital in fighting obesity in the UAE.

Health Consequences of Obesity in Emirati Women


Health Consequences of Obesity in Emirati Women

Being overweight puts Emirati women at a higher risk for serious health issues, especially heart problems. Research has found that those who are obese are more likely to have high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and heart disease.2 Carrying extra weight and the way it changes their body can lead to these heart problems.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Obesity greatly increases the chances of getting type 2 diabetes, which is a big concern for women in the UAE. They are more likely to develop this disease than women who are not overweight.2 The mix of being inactive and the UAE’s diet leads many women to have diabetes, affecting their life quality and health.

Type 2 Diabetes

Being obese also raises the likelihood of bone and joint issues, like arthritis and pains. The pressure on their joints from the extra body weight causes these problems to happen.2 This makes it harder for them to move easily, encouraging a less active life and further weight gain.

Musculoskeletal Problems

Government Initiatives to Combat Obesity

The United Arab Emirates’ government is fighting obesity with several steps. They introduced the National Nutrition Strategy 2030.3 This plan wants to make eating healthier easier for everyone, no matter their age. Its main aim is to cut obesity rates by half in kids and grown-ups by 2030. It plans to do this by touching on various food system aspects and pushing for better living habits.3

National Nutrition Strategy

The UAE is teaching its people, especially women, about staying at a healthy weight.3 It does this through public info campaigns. These campaigns use many channels, like TV, the internet, and reaching out to local communities. They spread the word on obesity’s dangers and give tips on eating, exercising, and just being healthier.

Public Awareness Campaigns

The UAE also put rules in place to fight obesity. This includes taxing sweet and fizzy drinks more, and keeping an eye on how food is labeled and advertised.3 These steps are meant to slow down the buying of unhealthy items. They also push food makers to improve their products. This is all part of a big plan to guide people, mainly women, into choosing better when it comes to eating.

Regulations on Food and Beverage Industry

The battle with obesity in the UAE shows a mix of actions. From setting goals in the National Nutrition Strategy 2030, to the ads and food rules, the government aims to fix the obesity problem in many ways.3 By focusing on the food system and pushing for good habits, they hope to help everyone, especially women, to live and eat better. This should cut down on illnesses linked to obesity.

Female Obesity Statistics in United Arab Emirates

In 2019, the Dubai Health Authority did a survey on health in Dubai. They found that many women in the UAE have too much weight. The survey showed that almost 18% of adults were obese. This is when someone’s BMI is 30 or more. Among women, the rate was higher, at 21.6%. For UAE nationals, it went up to 39.6%.1

Moreover, nearly 40% of the adults in Dubai were overweight. This means their BMI was between 25 and 29.9.1 These numbers show a big problem with obesity. There is a real need to fight this problem with different kinds of help.

Statistic Value
Overall Obesity Prevalence in Dubai 17.8%1
Obesity Rate Among Women in Dubai 21.6%1
Obesity Rate Among UAE Nationals 39.6%1
Overweight Prevalence in Dubai 39.8%1

Role of Physical Activity in Weight Management

Physical activity is key in preventing and managing obesity among Emirati women. Many lead inactive lives, which, along with bad diets, leads to obesity.4 Encouraging more activity, like exercises and lifestyle changes, is crucial. It helps women reach and stay at a healthy weight, lowering health risks.

Statistics show that only reported doing exercise.4 Most Emirati women don’t reach needed activity levels for managing weight. Strategies must be put in place to get women to be more active. This can fight obesity in the population.

physical activity levels

Increasing physical activity helps Emirati women stay at a healthy weight. Studies show regular activity is good for weight and health. Getting women to make exercise a priority is vital for controlling obesity rates.

Cultural Perceptions of Body Image

Cultural views on body image greatly influence how Emirati women see themselves.5 In the past, the Emirati culture valued larger body sizes. It linked them with wealth, health, and being fertile.5 So, many Emirati women might not feel the need to manage their weight, since being overweight was once praised.

Traditional Viewpoints

In traditional Emirati culture, big bodies were seen as good signs. People believed they showed wealth, health, and the ability to have children.5 This outlook made it okay and even liked to be overweight or obese among Emirati women. They might find it hard to work on their weight because of these beliefs.

Emerging Modern Perspectives

Things are changing for the younger Emirati women, though. Exposure to global media and education is making a difference.6 They are starting to see smaller body types as more desirable, following Western beauty standards. This can lead to them feeling bad about their bodies and using unhealthy ways to lose weight.6

Finding ways to deal with these changing views is important. It could help in fighting obesity among Emirati women.6

cultural influences on body image

Socioeconomic Impact of Obesity

Obesity is a big issue among Emirati women and it’s affecting the country’s economy. When women are obese, they often have to visit the doctor more. They might need extra care in the hospital too, dealing with health problems like heart conditions and diabetes.2 This means the UAE’s healthcare has to spend a lot to help them. If we tackle obesity in Emirati women, we could cut down on these healthcare costs.

Healthcare Costs

In 2017-2018, a health survey in the UAE found out a lot about obesity and health. By fighting obesity, the UAE can save a lot of money on healthcare.

Productivity and Workplace Challenges

Obesity can make Emirati women less productive at work. Extra weight and health issues make it hard to move and cause pain. So, they might not be able to do their jobs well.2 Less work gets done, leading to higher costs and missed chances for women. Working on obesity can better society and the economy. It improves health, happiness, and work success for Emirati women.


Obesity Prevention Strategies for Emirati Women

Fighting obesity in Emirati women means using many strategies.2 Programs that involve the community are key. They use the area’s culture to support healthy eating and more exercise. These efforts get Emirati women, their families, and local leaders working as a team. The goal is to keep these good habits going.

Community-Based Programs

Community efforts are vital in the fight against obesity for Emirati women.2 These programs connect with local culture and social circles. They aim to make healthier lives easier and more supported. This way, women, their families, and community leaders all pitch in for lasting change.

Workplace Wellness Initiatives

Workplaces can also help Emirati women stay healthy. By offering wellness programs, they make it easier to eat right, get fit, and stay at a healthy weight.2 Such efforts boost the health, happiness, and performance of these women at work.

School-Based Interventions

Schools play a big role in preventing obesity among Emirati women too.2 The UAE government can help by adding healthy food, exercise activities, and lessons on living well. The goal is to teach girls and young women to stay healthy for life. This lowers their chances of becoming obese as adults.

Challenges in Addressing Female Obesity

Emirati women face a big challenge due to limited access to healthy, affordable food. The UAE’s quick growth led to many fast-food and convenience stores. They usually offer foods that are low in nutrients but high in calories. This, along with cultural traditions that enjoy high-calorie meals, makes it hard for Emirati women to eat healthily. This leads to more women becoming obese.2

Limited Access to Healthy Food Options

Another hurdle is that many Emirati women lead inactive lives. They use devices and methods that reduce the need for physical work. Their culture also values sedentary leisure activities. This combination of little physical exercise and bad eating habits makes it challenging for them to stay at a healthy weight.7

Sedentary Lifestyles

The UAE is trying to fight obesity with different programs. However, a big challenge is the lack of complete support for Emirati women.2 It’s important to create strategies that look at all the reasons for obesity. These should include ways to eat better, move more, and learn about health in ways that fit their culture. By doing this, the fight against obesity among Emirati women can be more successful.2

Lack of Comprehensive Support Systems

The number of obese females in the UAE is worrying.2 Various studies show that obesity among UAE women is increasing.2 There is a high number of obese adult women in the UAE.2 Fighting female obesity in the UAE is a major public health goal.2 It’s clear that taking effective actions to tackle this problem is very important.2 Lifestyle and eating habits are big reasons for the rise in obesity among UAE women.2

Comparative Analysis with Other Gulf Countries

Compared to its neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, stands out. It often records high numbers of obese and overweight women.8 This issue isn’t unique to the UAE. Other countries in the area also face rising obesity rates, especially among women.8 The reasons behind this are common among these nations. Factors like fast urban growth, little movement, and eating habits borrowed from the West play key roles.

The UAE leads with more women facing obesity than in other Gulf nations.8 Throughout the region, the story is worrying. Some places see over a third of their women as obese.8 Facing such a health crisis is made worse by limited healthcare, strict traditions, and differences in wealth.8

To fight obesity among Emirati women and the broader issue in Gulf females, a group effort is needed. GCC nations must work together, share what works, set common policies, and create environments that support women’s health. Doing so can make a real difference in the region.


  1. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/13/1/e062053
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9884894/
  3. https://data.worldobesity.org/country/united-arab-emirates-225/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5667520/
  5. https://scielo.isciii.es/pdf/nh/v27n6/24original13.pdf
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7919234/
  7. https://www.thenationalnews.com/uae/health/2022/07/10/new-research-highlights-the-problem-of-obesity-among-students-in-the-gulf/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4039587/


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