Dubai’s Weight Loss Program
The government of Dubai, normally known for its vast wealth and excessive consumption, is attempting to address the problem of obesity.
According to a recent United Nations report, the United Arab Emirates has an adult obesity rate of 33.7%–making it the fourth heaviest country in the Middle East (behind Kuwait at 42.8%, Saudi Arabia at 35.2%, and Jordan at 34.3%. That rate puts the UAE well ahead of Europe, where the average adult obesity rate is about 18 percent, and on par with the United States, whose rate is about 32 percent. Among adult women in the UAE, the obesity rate is considerably higher, reaching 43 percent and raising concerns about an emerging public health crisis.
But Dubai, which is one of seven Emirates that comprise the UAE and is perhaps most well-known for its massive oil wealth, is taking an interesting approach to challenging adult obesity. Coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan, which is typically marked with fasting during daylight hours, the government has launched the thirty day “Your Weight in Gold” Challenge. The government is offering citizens 1 gram of gold for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of weight they lose during Ramadan. At current gold prices, that translate into a payment of almost $20 per pound lost.
In addition, the three citizens who lose the most weight will win the gold equivalent of Dh20,000 (approximately $5,500) each.