Obesity in Bahrain

The current situation

Currently in Bahrain, the things that aid obesity are more than a few things. For example, there are more than ample amounts fast food and cafeterias that are open throughout the day, most of which are open until the early hours of the mornings. Staying up to the early hours of the morning is a past time for teenagers and university students, mainly those who don’t have jobs; this also stimulates the fast food markets since people tend to get hungry around the clock. These people will then tend to eat this kind of fast food very late, and sometimes, directly before going to sleep.

Another huge problem is the consumption of soft drinks such as Coca-cola or Pepsi. The younger generation often drinks soft drinks as often the Japanese drink tea. This is a major problem as the soft drinks contain a massive amount of sugar. Now this wouldn’t be as huge of a problem if these weren’t so refreshing, especially in our region where the heat is incredible. The heat itself pushes people to dehydration more than other parts of the world, and many people tend to drink soft drinks to hydrate.

One more problem that we face in Bahrain is that we have many hereditary diseases. Most common are diabetes, high-blood pressure, and heart disease.

What further increases the problem in the country is the fact that people are only active if they do a sport, as traversing is a huge problem without a car. So unlikely many other countries, you would usually do some walking at a given part of the day, but in Bahrain, or the gulf region for that matter, people tend to use their cars even for short trips due to the heat.

What enforces each and every problem at the end of the day, is the lack of awareness on what obesity really is, even though it is known that there comes diseases with obesity, there no true highlights of what is the true nature of obesity.


As per the data provided by the “Central Informatics Organization” (CIO) of Bahrain, The population stands at 1,195,020 people, of which 62% are male, and the remaining 38% are female.

The amount of expatriates in Bahrain is massive; the Non-Bahraini’s currently residing in Bahrain stand at 610,332 people, accounting for approximately 51% of the total population.

The Bahraini’s residing in the country account for approximately 49%, and the male to female ratio is approximately on equal footing (Male: 295,878. Female: 288,810).


Education in Bahrain at pre university level is available for free. As of 2010, the literacy rate in Bahrain exceeded 94%. In 2012, Bahrain was recorded to have spent 2.6% equivalent of its GDP on education alone, this equated to approximately 9% of total government expenditure. As of 2013, Bahrain has a total of 206 government schools of levels ranging from the primary level to the high school level, as well as, religious institutions. This data of course doesn’t take into consideration the number of private schools available in the country.


Currently in Bahrain the number of people employed starting from the age of 15 onwards is 716,473, Of which 527,749 are Non-Bahraini making up over 73% of the working population, and 188,724 Bahraini’s who make up the rest of the approximately 26% of the working population. The total male working population is 566,350 of which only 128,625 are Bahraini, which is approximately 22.7% of the male working population. Whereas the other 77.3% are Non-Bahraini standing at 437,725 men. As for the female working population, they make up a total of 150,123 women in the population’s workforce, the Bahraini females stand at 60,099 making up approximately 40% of the female working population in the country. And the Non-Bahraini female working population stands at 90,024, approximately 60% of the female working population.


Healthcare in Bahrain, like education, is free to the public; there is medical complex that is run by the Ministry of Health, as well as, health clinics in every municipality within the country that operate as free of charge for the general public, this of course excludes the private clinics and hospitals spread across the country. For the sake of this paper, I’ll be looking at the number of people who visited diabetic clinics run by the Ministry of Health.

In the year 2008, the amount of people that visited the diabetic clinics were a total of 25,118 people. Of which, first time visitors accounted for 3,132 people, approximately 12.4% of the total visitors. The amount of revisits made up approximately 87.5%. The Bahraini nationals that revisited these clinics made up 72.5% of the total visits, and the number of female re-visitors overtook the males (Female revisits: 11,152. Male revisits: 7,069).

In 2009, the total number of visits to diabetic clinics increased slightly from 25,118 visits in the previous year, to 26,065 visits. The number of first time visits slightly increased from the last year. The increase can be witnessed mainly for the Bahraini Females. The number of revisits also increased for both genders of Bahrainis.

In 2010 there was an increase of total visits of approximately 27%. The number of visits was at 33,076. The trend of first time visits kept increasing in a steady pace. There was a spike witnessed in the number of visits. The number of male Bahraini’s increased by approximately 31% from the previous year, female Bahraini’s revisits increased by approximately 24%, Non-Bahraini males increased by approximately 1%, and female non-Bahraini revisits shot up by approximately 39%.

In 2011, the increase witnessed a similar jump in visits to diabetic clinics, though, the number of first time visits had increased more than the other years. Male Bahraini’s increased in visits from 1,386 in 2010 to 1,834 in 2011. Female Bahraini first visits retained their upward trend from the previous year, the increase was from 2,113 to 2,430 visitors. Revisits kept following its continuous growth especially for male non-Bahraini revisit patients. Bahraini revisits saw a jump from 9,870 in 2010 to 11,028 in 2011. Female Bahraini visits increased from 14,242 in the previous year to 15,903 revisit patients in 2011. A huge jump was witnessed in male non-Bahraini revisit patients, where as the number of revisits in 2010 was 2,699 it soared up to 4,310 revisits in 2011. The number of female non-Bahraini revisits increased from 1,445 in 2010 to 1,654 revisit patients in the year 2011.

In the year 2012, the number of people visiting the diabetic clinics further increased. Male Bahraini first time visits increased from 1,834 in 2011 to 2,898 in 2012. Female Bahraini first time visits witnessed a leap from 2,430 in 2011 to 3,699. Non-Bahraini males’ first time visits decreased from 1,207 in 2011 to 1,010 in 2012. Female non-Bahraini first time visits increased from 448 in 2011 to 609 in 2012. Bahraini male revisit patients continued with their increasing trend which displayed a rise from 11,028 revisits in 2011 to 12,209. Female Bahraini revisits further increased from 15,903 revisits in 2011 to 17,045 in 2012. Revisits from non-Bahraini males decreased from its peak of 4,310 revisit patients in 2011 to 3,411 in 2012. Non-Bahraini female revisits on the other hand, had increased from 1,654 in 2011 to 2,021 revisits in 2012.

So over the 5 year period, the amount of total visits to diabetic clinics increased by approximately 70.8%. Revisits accounted for approximately 80.9% of the visits in 2012.

Overweight vs. Obesity

Both overweight and obese are labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is considered healthy for a given height. The terms also identify ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems.

So in order to find differentiate between being overweight and being obese, the use of “body mass index” (BMI) has been adopted. The dimensions followed are the following:

– Adults that have a BMI of between 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight

– Adults who have a BMI of 30 or anything that exceeds it are considered to be obese.


The workplace should take care of their employees, so in order to prevent obesity, employers can adopt these recommendations:

– Organizing conferences, and workshops on obesity and physical activity.

– Conducting educational programs through the workplace that emphasize the hazards of obesity and the advantages of living healthy.

– Providing healthy and low energy density foods in the workplace cafeteria – Carrying out training courses in management of obesity.

Establishing the Arab Taskforce for Obesity and Physical Activity

The Arab world lacks a Taskforce that is dedicated to fend against obesity and the promotion of physical activity, although other regional taskforces for this very task already exist.

The main activities this taskforce should execute are as follows:

– Increasing the awareness in Arab countries on the prevention, causes, and treatment of obesity.

– Encouraging physical activity in various age groups of the Arab population.

– Working as an official body to review and provide sound and reliable information on obesity and physical activity in Arab countries.

– Providing technical assistance related to the management of obesity for governmental and non-governmental institutions in the Arab region.

– Carrying out research and studies on obesity and physical activity, as well as training courses in the management of obesity.

Recommendations for the Media

There is an apparent lack in terms of health and nutrition awareness in regards to obesity and how to manage it in the region, and the media have participated in spreading inaccurate beliefs in regards to obesity. So it is recommended to do the following:

– First and foremost, the mass media should provide sound and reliable information on the treatment of obesity.

– Preparation of programs to educate the public on causes, prevention and management of obesity. Such programs should deliver the following material:

a. Healthy diet for various age groups and sex.

b. Physical activity according to age, sex and health status of the individuals.

c. Advice for better selection of exercise equipment.

d. Advantages and disadvantages of various methods of treating obesity.

e. Correction of unsound beliefs and attitudes related to obesity and physical activity.

Recommendations for People Engaged in the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity

This would include general practitioners, nutritionists, dietitians, exercise specialists, nurses, physical education teachers and other health care providers.

These people need to prioritize doing the following:

1. It is necessary to at the very least note down the weight and height of patients or individuals who seek health treatment or who are involved in exercise, to assess their weight status.

2. It is important to provide the patients or obese subjects sound health and nutrition information on obesity. The information provided must be reliable.

3. To provide sufficient treatment of obesity, healthcare providers should have adequate understanding of the physiological, social and psychological bases of obesity.

4. Patients or obese subjects should be provided adequate information on physical activity or exercise, taking into consideration their health condition, traditions and culture.

Recommendations for Governmental Institutes

– Governmental institutes hold a great amount of responsibility to alter the environmental factors that are associated with obesity. These changes can come to pass by introducing regulations, activities, and programs that can aid the reduction of obesity and the encouragement of physical activities in the community. In order for this to succeed, policy makers must be convinced of the importance of the issue as well as how dire it is.

– There is a need for regulations and legislation for the special institutes that work in the treatment of obesity, such as beauty centers, slimming clubs, hospitals, pharmacies, private clinics and shops provided slimming drugs, foods and exercise equipment. It was found that many of these institutes do not deal with treatment of obesity in a proper way.

– There should be health control on prescription drugs and equipment sold for overcoming obesity.

– The mass media needs to censor false advertising of drugs and equipment etc that claim to help with obesity reduction. But they should also strive to review the legitimacy of these companies claims as to not reach a level of media control.

– Governmental institutes should consider all possible endeavors to provide locations and facilities for practicing physical activity and exercise, considering and not neglecting the traditions and culture of the society in each country.

– Additional and up-to-date training courses for people engaged in the prevention and treatment of obesity should be provided.

– Introduction of reliable information on dietary management and physical activity to prevent and control obesity should be introduced in both the school’s and university’s curriculum. It is preferable that a committee consists of specialized people from universities, the ministries of health and other related sectors to review and acknowledge the legitimacy of the information provided.

– Physical activity in schools should be encouraged through physical education classes and training of physical education teachers.

Once the awareness of obesity increases, the results should follow soon after. A major issue is the lack of awareness, do to that fact, people continue destroying themselves, so unless something is done about the awareness of the community, not much can be accomplished.







http://www.cio.gov.bh/cio_ara/English/Publications/Statistical Abstract/ABS2012/Ch7/6.pdf