The people of the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar are the wealthiest in the world. The citizens of the small emirate enjoyed a per capita GDP of US$179,000 in 2010, the highest among nations by a considerable margin. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Qataris are also among the fattest people on the globe. Over 70 per cent of adults are overweight. That includes the nearly 40 per cent who are obese, according to recent studies. Both stats are expected to climb in coming years.
What isn’t news, likely, is that the two factors—wealth and obesity—are related. Qatar became very rich, very fast in recent decades. For many native Qataris, that has meant a new life with servants, rich foods and little manual labour. As a result, obesity and related issues, like hypertension and diabetes, have soared.“It’s a very, very serious problem facing the future of Qatar,” Sharoud Al-Jundi Matthis, from the Qatar Diabetes Association, told The Atlantic recently. Qataris aren’t the largest people on Earth. The Pacific Island nations remain the most obese for now. But if things don’t change, Qatar may soon compete for the crown.