Chapter 3 Additional World Health Assembly nutrition indicators

This section assesses progress towards three additional WHA endorsed global nutrition targets, i.e. exclusive breastfeeding, low birthweight, and adult obesity.

3.1 Adult obesity

The prevalence of obesity among adults of 18 years and above increased in the Arab region, from 19.5 percent in 2000 to 28.8 percent in 2016. This is more than double the global average of 13.1 percent. High-income countries had the highest prevalence of adult obesity with 34 percent, followed by upper-middle-income economies (31.7 percent), lower-middle income economies (29 percent) and low-income economies (18.8 percent). Prevalence of adult obesity is higher in non-conflict countries (30.4 percent) compared to conflict-affected countries (24.1 percent) of the region.


Prevalence of obesity among adults in the Arab States by subregion


Prevalence of obesity among adults (percent)

Arab States19.522.025.027.528.228.8
Low-income economies11.713.716.317.918.318.8
Lower-middle-income economies19.422.025.027.628.329.0
Upper-middle-income economies23.325.528.230.531.131.7
High-income economies25.227.430.132.733.334.0
Arab States LDCs7.18.911.113.113.614.1
Conflict countries16.318.420.823.023.524.1
Non-conflict countries20.623.226.429.029.730.4
Source: WHO.

The prevalence of obesity increased at different rates in all countries of the region since 2000. The highest increase of 10 percent is in Algeria and Jordan. The prevalence of adult obesity is highest in Kuwait, 37.4 percent, while it is lowest in the Comoros, 7.5 percent. Nine countries in the region had a prevalence of over 30 percent, including Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


Prevalence of obesity among adults in the Arab States by country