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our mission is to raise awareness on issues impacting healthcare policy, build
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Report-16/05/2017
Confronting obesity in Qatar

The Middle East and North Africa region remains a hotspot for obesity, and Qatar is no exception. Like its Gulf Co-operation Council neighbours, Qatar shares the legacy of a rapid transition from a nomadic society, in which food was relatively scarce, to a Westernised society, in which fast food is plentiful. Extreme heat for most months of the year does not encourage outdoor activity, with people tending to choose the alternative of air-conditioned homes and malls.

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Report-09/05/2017
Confronting obesity in Jordan

The Kingdom of Jordan, which is increasingly becoming a medical-tourism destination for metabolic surgery, is contending with its own obesity problem at home. According to data from the World Health Organisation for 2014, prevalence of adult obesity has climbed above 30%.

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Report-08/05/2017
Confronting obesity in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia finds itself at the centre of a public-health crisis that has made the Arabian Gulf region an outlier among developed countries. The region has some of the highest levels of obesity in the world. In countries such as Saudi Arabia—where oil wealth led to dramatic changes in lifestyle earlier than in other Gulf states such as Oman—the crisis is especially acute.

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Report-05/05/2017
Confronting obesity in Kuwait

Kuwait lies near the epicentre of the global obesity crisis. The Gulf region has some of the highest obesity levels in the world, and Kuwait and neighbouring Qatar have alternately topped the regional table. In 2014 a World Health Organisation report found that some 40% of adults in Kuwait were obese, roughly midway between the levels of over 42% in Qatar and more than 37% in the United Arab Emirates. Child obesity is a growing problem in Kuwait, as is also the case in neighbouring countries.

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Report-03/05/2017
Confronting obesity in the Czech Republic

Against a backdrop of growing obesity levels across the EU, the Czech Republic holds the unfortunate distinction of having one of the region’s worst problems with excess weight. Studies suggest that over recent years the incidence of obesity has risen continuously.

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Report-03/11/2016
Confronting Obesity in the UAE

The UAE ranks third in the Middle East in obesity prevalence at a rate of more than 37%, well above the European average of around 20%. Meanwhile, growing rates of child obesity present a looming threat to the UAE’s health budget and wider economy with 18% of boys and 12% of girls respectively considered to be obese. Furthermore, according to the International Diabetes Foundation, the UAE has among the highest comparative prevalence rates of diabetes in adults in the world (19% in 2014) which highlights the urgent need for policy action in the country. With this said, the economic costs of obesity in the UAE are already significant at USD6bn, or 1.6% of the country’s GDP. Even with the government’s prevention and awareness efforts, there is still a lack of access to treatment and follow up particularly for expatriates which account for 80-85% of the overall population. According to Dr. Nadia Ahmed, Obesity Medicine Specialist, even with the recently endorsed guidelines for the surgical treatment of type 2 diabetes, bariatric surgery is still not understood as a metabolic procedure by many providers, and certainly not by most patients. However, she believes that the application of surgery in the treatment of diabetes should help to change this perception. Experts conclude that policy makers in the UAE should consider strengthening the regulatory environment to create more standardized approaches to obesity care, including rules around the selection and post-operative treatment of patients undergoing metabolic surgery. Additionally, experts recommend that the UAE adopts a multidisciplinary approach to treating obese patients, incorporating this into the country’s primary healthcare strategy.

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Report-31/10/2016
Confronting Obesity in the Middle East

High levels of obesity in the Middle East region are the result of a complex combination of interconnected environmental, cultural and biological causes. Policy makers are yet to implement impactful measures to accelerate access to care for obese and metabolic patients. In the meanwhile, obesity is a major economic burden on countries in the region. This is in part due to the link of obesity with associated conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular problems. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), spending on diabetes care in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as a percentage of total health expenditures, is already the highest globally. A widespread public perception in the region is that obesity is a symptom of diabetes or hypertension, rather than a disease in itself. Experts say that this perception ultimately makes it more challenging to care for patients, for example highlighted by the fact that insurance frequently won’t cover interventions in the region. Dr. Nadia Ahmed, Obesity Medicine Specialist, states that “the underlying biology is so complex that you have many sub-types of obesity and need many different underlying treatment tracks.” She recommends to have a range of treatments available and accessible as well as providers who are skilled and equipped at applying these treatments with the right healthcare infrastructure that supports assessment and treatment of obesity in that manner. Experts conclude that governments must make sure that rudimentary preventive programs, including education in schools, are in place and include families. For those who are already obese, experts recommend better training of professionals with expertise in the complexities of obesity, particularly the creation of multidisciplinary teams to treat patients, with a core team including specialists in obesity medicine and management, dieticians and even specialist psychologists.  

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Report-15/06/2016
CONFRONTING OBESITY IN SPAIN

Spain, like its European neighbours, is waking up to a looming obesity problem. Although obesity prevalence is roughly around the European average, levels of awareness and concern about the problem are lower than in many other European countries. This has contributed to an emphasis of Spanish obesity policy on prevention rather than treatment.

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Report-11/04/2016
CONFRONTING OBESITY IN FRANCE

Compared with its European neighbours, France has been slower to stake out a more aggressive policy for combatting obesity. In part, this is a simple question of numbers: around 15% of the country’s adult population was obese in 2014, well below the levels seen in England (24.8%), Germany (23.6%) or Spain (22.9%).

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Report-11/04/2016
CONFRONTING OBESITY IN GERMANY

It may be the political and economic leader of Europe, but when it comes to the global obesity epidemic, Germany takes a decidedly relaxed attitude compared with its neighbours.

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CONFRONTING OBESITY IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

Against a backdrop of growing obesity levels across the EU, the Czech Republic holds the unfortunate distinction of having one of the region’s worst problems with excess weight. Studies suggest that over recent years the incidence of obesity has risen continuously. A 2010 research paper found that 23% of the adult Czech population was obese and 34% overweight.1 The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that by 2025 two-thirds of adults in the Czech Republic (67%) will be either overweight or obese, up from 61% in 2015.2 This makes the projected Czech rate the joint 14th-highest among the 53 European countries examined by the WHO, highlighting the pan- European obesity epidemic identified in a recent report from The Economist Intelligence Unit on Confronting obesity in Europe.3

  1. M. Matoulek, S. Svacina and J. Lajka, “The incidence of obesity and its complications in the Czech Republic”, Vnitr Lek, 2010 Oct;56(10):1019-27.
  2. The UK Health Forum, Forecasting/projecting adulthood obesity in 53 WHO EU region countries; a report for the World Health Organisation, August 2015.
  3. The Economist Intelligence Unit, Confronting obesity in Europe: Taking action to change the default setting, November 2015. Available here

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Confronting Obesity in the UAE

The UAE ranks third in the Middle East in obesity prevalence at a rate of more than 37%, well above the European average of around 20%. Meanwhile, growing rates of child obesity present a looming threat to the UAE’s health budget and wider economy with 18% of boys and 12% of girls respectively considered to be obese. Furthermore, according to the International Diabetes Foundation, the UAE has among the highest comparative prevalence rates of diabetes in adults in the world (19% in 2014) which highlights the urgent need for policy action in the country. With this said, the economic costs of obesity in the UAE are already significant at USD6bn, or 1.6% of the country’s GDP. Even with the government’s prevention and awareness efforts, there is still a lack of access to treatment and follow up particularly for expatriates which account for 80-85% of the overall population. According to Dr. Nadia Ahmed, Obesity Medicine Specialist, even with the recently endorsed guidelines for the surgical treatment of type 2 diabetes, bariatric surgery is still not understood as a metabolic procedure by many providers, and certainly not by most patients. However, she believes that the application of surgery in the treatment of diabetes should help to change this perception. Experts conclude that policy makers in the UAE should consider strengthening the regulatory environment to create more standardized approaches to obesity care, including rules around the selection and post-operative treatment of patients undergoing metabolic surgery. Additionally, experts recommend that the UAE adopts a multidisciplinary approach to treating obese patients, incorporating this into the country’s primary healthcare strategy.

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Download global diabesity overview

Confronting Obesity in the Middle East

High levels of obesity in the Middle East region are the result of a complex combination of interconnected environmental, cultural and biological causes. Policy makers are yet to implement impactful measures to accelerate access to care for obese and metabolic patients. In the meanwhile, obesity is a major economic burden on countries in the region. This is in part due to the link of obesity with associated conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular problems. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), spending on diabetes care in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as a percentage of total health expenditures, is already the highest globally. A widespread public perception in the region is that obesity is a symptom of diabetes or hypertension, rather than a disease in itself. Experts say that this perception ultimately makes it more challenging to care for patients, for example highlighted by the fact that insurance frequently won’t cover interventions in the region. Dr. Nadia Ahmed, Obesity Medicine Specialist, states that “the underlying biology is so complex that you have many sub-types of obesity and need many different underlying treatment tracks.” She recommends to have a range of treatments available and accessible as well as providers who are skilled and equipped at applying these treatments with the right healthcare infrastructure that supports assessment and treatment of obesity in that manner. Experts conclude that governments must make sure that rudimentary preventive programs, including education in schools, are in place and include families. For those who are already obese, experts recommend better training of professionals with expertise in the complexities of obesity, particularly the creation of multidisciplinary teams to treat patients, with a core team including specialists in obesity medicine and management, dieticians and even specialist psychologists.

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Confronting obesity in Europe

Taking action to change the default setting

“Confronting obesity in Europe: Taking action to change the default setting” is an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report, commissioned by Ethicon (part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies), which examines and assesses existing European national government policies for dealing with the obesity crisis. The findings of this report are based on desk research and 19 in-depth interviews with a range of senior healthcare experts, including healthcare practitioners, academics and policymakers.

Europe is facing an obesity crisis of epidemic proportions, one that threatens to overwhelm the EU’s already struggling economies and place a tremendous burden on its healthcare systems.

Obesity has been found to decrease median life expectancy by 8-10 years in the most severe cases, comparable to the effects of smoking. Europe is facing an obesity crisis. The proportion of Europeans categorised as either overweight or obese—those, respectively, with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9, and 30 or more—doubled between 1980 and 2008. In most European countries every other person is now overweight or obese.2 Obesity, it seems, really is the new normal.

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Confronting obesity in The Netherlands

Although the incidence of overweight and obesity among the Dutch population is lower than the European average, the country combines approaches focusing on both lifestyle and chronic-disease management of the condition that have contributed to one of the lowest and most stable obesity rates in Europe: 11.1% of Dutch adults were estimated to be obese in 2013, according to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), compared with an OECD average of 15.5%.

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Confronting obesity in Belgium

As a window on Europe’s obesity epidemic, Belgium represents neither the worst-case scenario nor the best. According to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 13.7% of Belgian adults were estimated to be obese in 2013, compared with an OECD average of 15.5%

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Confronting obesity in The UK

As is the case in other European countries, UK public opinion generally favours the belief that obesity is largely a lifestyle issue. A recent survey by the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) found that 92% of UK respondents believe that obesity is caused by lifestyle choices, compared with a European average of 79%.1 Moreover, according to the survey only 18% of UK respondents recognise obesity as a disease, compared with nearly half of the general survey sample (46%).

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CONFRONTING OBESITY IN GERMANY

It may be the political and economic leader of Europe, but when it comes to the global obesity epidemic, Germany takes a decidedly relaxed attitude compared with its neighbours.

Despite a population in which two-thirds of men and half of all women are overweight or obese and a quarter of the population meets the definition of obese, the government and health insurance system have yet to introduce a comprehensive strategy or even acknowledge that a serious problem exists, according to experts interviewed for this case study.

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Diabetes in the Gulf - The Policy Challenge

The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states have seen an extraordinary increase in diabetes prevalence rates during the past two decades, and rates are expected to reach 50% in some states during the next 10 years. In a Janssen-sponsored report, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) outlines the devastating impact of diabetes in the region, analyses contributing factors, and investigates current initiatives to tackle the disease. In Diabetes in the Gulf: The Policy Challenge, the EIU provides GCC states with recommendations on adopting a co-ordinated, region-wide response, in order to halt prevalence rates and rally against the overwhelming increase of diabetes in the region.

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FT Health: Combating Diabetes

It is estimated that approximately 382 million people worldwide have diabetes and, if nothing is done to address this epidemic, by 2035 almost 592 million people, or one adult in 10, will have diabetes. This equates to approximately three new cases every 10 seconds, or almost 10 million per year.

A Financial Times special report, published on 14th November 2014, gives a global overview of key topics that are pertinent to diabetes, including the impact of a changing diet and lifestyle, as well as providing an insight into the key preventative approaches, and recent developments in the management of this disease.

Download FT Health Combating Diabetes special report

“This document is not authored by Janssen, and was made possible through an unconditional sponsorship from Janssen whereby the authors had full editorial input and control. This document reflects the opinions and views of the authors, and are not necessarily those of Janssen.”

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Impact of the economic downturn on the management of diabetes in Europe

“Diabetes in the downturn” is a report, commissioned by Janssen Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) that provides an in-depth look at the impact of the recent economic downturn on diabetes management in six European countries, from the perspectives of both patients and general practitioners.

Key data overview

Watch the animation

        

 

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CONFRONTING OBESITY IN FRANCE

From the periphery to the policy Agenda

Compared with its European neighbours, France has been slower to stake out a more aggressive policy for combatting obesity. In part, this is a simple question of numbers: around 15% of the country’s adult population was obese in 2014, well below the levels seen in England (24.8%), Germany (23.6%) or Spain (22.9%).

On the one hand, obesity policy in France has largely emphasised preventive care and behaviour-oriented initiatives, but on the other hand, the insurance system’s policy of fully reimbursing bariatric surgery has given France one of the largest uptake rates for such surgery in Europe.

The government’s national obesity plan, which ran from 2010 to 2013, was the first step towards creating a more unified, rather than piecemeal, approach to dealing with the condition. However, co-ordinated services are still fragmented around the country, and follow-up care after surgery remains insufficient, according to those interviewed for this case study.

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CONFRONTING OBESITY IN SPAIN

Spain, like its European neighbours, is waking up to a looming obesity problem. Although obesity prevalence is roughly around the European average, levels of awareness and concern about the problem are lower than in many other European countries. This has contributed to an emphasis of Spanish obesity policy on prevention rather than treatment.

Download the report

 

CONFRONTING OBESITY IN KUWAIT

Kuwait lies near the epicentre of the global obesity crisis. The Gulf region has some of the highest obesity levels in the world, and Kuwait and neighbouring Qatar have alternately topped the regional table. In 2014 a World Health Organisation report found that some 40% of adults in Kuwait were obese, roughly midway between the levels of over 42% in Qatar and more than 37% in the United Arab Emirates. Child obesity is a growing problem in Kuwait, as is also the case in neighbouring countries.

Download the report

 

CONFRONTING OBESITY IN SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia finds itself at the centre of a public-health crisis that has made the Arabian Gulf region an outlier among developed countries. The region has some of the highest levels of obesity in the world. In countries such as Saudi Arabia—where oil wealth led to dramatic changes in lifestyle earlier than in other Gulf states such as Oman—the crisis is especially acute.

Download the report

 

CONFRONTING OBESITY IN JORDAN

The Kingdom of Jordan, which is increasingly becoming a medical-tourism destination for metabolic surgery, is contending with its own obesity problem at home. According to data from the World Health Organisation for 2014, prevalence of adult obesity has climbed above 30%.

Download the report

 

CONFRONTING OBESITY IN QATAR

The Middle East and North Africa region remains a hotspot for obesity, and Qatar is no exception. Like its Gulf Co-operation Council neighbours, Qatar shares the legacy of a rapid transition from a nomadic society, in which food was relatively scarce, to a Westernised society, in which fast food is plentiful. Extreme heat for most months of the year does not encourage outdoor activity, with people tending to choose the alternative of air-conditioned homes and malls.

Download the report

 

Related News


Confronting Obesity in the Middle East

High levels of obesity in the Middle East region are the result of a complex combination of interconnected environmental, cultural and biological causes. Policy makers are yet to implement impactful measures to accelerate access to care for obese and metabolic patients. In the meanwhile, obesity is a major economic burden on countries in the region. This is in part due to the link of obesity with associated conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular problems. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), spending on diabetes care in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as a percentage of total health expenditures, is already the highest globally. A widespread public perception in the region is that obesity is a symptom of diabetes or hypertension, rather than a disease in itself. Experts say that this perception ultimately makes it more challenging to care for patients, for example highlighted by the fact that insurance frequently won’t cover interventions in the region. Dr. Nadia Ahmed, Obesity Medicine Specialist, states that “the underlying biology is so complex that you have many sub-types of obesity and need many different underlying treatment tracks.” She recommends to have a range of treatments available and accessible as well as providers who are skilled and equipped at applying these treatments with the right healthcare infrastructure that supports assessment and treatment of obesity in that manner. Experts conclude that governments must make sure that rudimentary preventive programs, including education in schools, are in place and include families. For those who are already obese, experts recommend better training of professionals with expertise in the complexities of obesity, particularly the creation of multidisciplinary teams to treat patients, with a core team including specialists in obesity medicine and management, dieticians and even specialist psychologists.    

31/10/2016 Find out more

Confronting obesity in Europe

Confronting obesity in Europe: Taking action to change the default setting” is an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report, commissioned by Ethicon (part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies), which examines and assesses existing European national government policies for dealing with the obesity crisis. The findings of this report are based on desk research and 19 in-depth interviews with a range of senior healthcare experts, including healthcare practitioners, academics and policymakers.

18/02/2016 Find out more

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