Saturday, May 31, 2008

Its official. Omanis are even fatter than Americans

For those of you who think I was being a bit harsh earlier, here’s some facts. Plus, I feel I should correct a popular myth that it’s the Americans who are the real global fatties. This should be a wake-up call Oman: in 2000 you were even more obese than the Americans.
And lets face it – you aren’t getting any thinner since then are you?

In 2000, a study examined the proportion of overweight and obese adults in Omani citizens: In men it was 48.8%, women 51.1%. In 1991 it was 39.3% and 54.6%.
The average percentage of officially obese adults (BMI>30) in Oman in 2000 was 20.2%, even more than the US, which in 1999 was 18.9%.
Its official folks. On average you’re got more obese people than Americans. And a larger proportion of Omani women are overweight or obese than American women.
Wow. That’s some performance. Well done Pizza Hut, Hardies, McDonalds, KFC, curry dripping in Ghee, shwarma, ice cream, etc etc etc.

This is a problem. Its not even just the asthetics and the diabetes, but add increased risk of heart problems, and kidney failure. And if you’re really fat, they can’t transplant a kidney at all. Plus, you have a set of genes that make you more likely to get diabetes in the first place.

For those interested with the diabetes link, its not just about being generally fat (‘big boned’), but especially bad is being fat around the gut, the so-called waist circumference or waist-hip ratio. I think these statistics speak for themselves.
The medics report. Body fat distribution and the risk of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in the Omani population
Here’s a link to a nice paper published in the Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1, 1999, Page 14-20, by D.H. Al-Asfoor, J.A. Al-Lawati and A.J. Mohammed showing how likely you are to have diabetes if your Omani by Body mass Index and waist circumference.

Body Mass Index Overweight = BMI >25, Obese BMI>30
USA data
US 1999:
Overweight + Obese 59.4% for men, 50.7% for women and 54.9% overallObesity: overall average 18.9%

Oman data
Oman 2000:
In the year 2000, the age adjusted prevalence of obesity reached 16.7% in men, compared to 10.5% in 1991. In women, the prevalence was 23.8% in 2000, compared to 25.1% in 1991. Similarly, the prevalence of overweight increased among men, from 28.8-32.1% and decreased among women, from 29.5-27.3%.


  1. We are that fat? Crazy.

  2. I can't believe that. Who did that study and what is it based on? Come on, the average Omani is short and skinny.

    Ok, I am fat. But I am definitely not the average. Heck, most of the time I can't buy clothes in Oman.

  3. I gave the links Muscati! They look pretty solid.

    As with all statistics, you have to watch the detail. Oman has a higher % of the adult (older than 20) Omani population (sorry, you can't count skinny expat underfed indian labourers to offset fat Muscat princesses in their Lexus') that are obese (=BMI more than 30) than America. 20% vs 19%. You're fat.

    Key for you Muscati personally is watch that waistline... esp if you have a family history of diabetes (and in Oman, who doesn't?)

  4. weird...

    I barely saw fat people in Oman, but here in the US between each 5 people there has to be at least 2 REALLY fat ones.

  5. I tried to read the paper, but could only gain access to the abstract. I want more information on the sampling. Did they sample people that went to the hospital? if that is the case, then you have a sampling issue, sick people might already be obese.
    However from the abstract, it seems like obesity in men is 16.5% and 23.8% in Women. From which prevalence of obesity in women actually decreased through the sample period.
    Also, it seems like there are multiple definitions of obese.
    Finally, the authors do not adjust the BMI for female and male samples!
    Good post.

  6. they may be fatter, but i think they are healthier than americans.
    body immunity and strenghtness does not nesscarily depend on your fatness

  7. Kidney failure and heartattacks aside, I think the persistent complaints by corpulent people in generally is that their joints ache (which is obviously more long lasting and persistant than a one off heart attack)

  8. Amjad,
    It depends where you look. You're in Texas, one of the heaviest States... and you don't see as many women in Muscat out and about I guess, esp. those with a BMI>30.

    Per, No I disagree.
    1/ the standard definitions of Overweight (BMI>25) and Obese (BMI>30) are international and were used consistently in both studies. The international definitions are the same for men and women.
    2/ Both surveys on overweight & obese % distribution were done specifically to sample the BMI distribution of the general population, and were not based on sick people. The diabetes corelation paper is unclear on sampling, (but I'm not using that data to compare % overweights between the two populations, just to emphasise how being fat makes you diabetic).
    3/ Yes, Omani women are getting slightly less obese and less overweight compared to 1991, but they are still more overweight and obese Omani women (in 2000 as a %) than American Women (in 1999).
    4/ The inescapable conclusion is that there were (in 2000) on average a greater % of the Omani Adult population officially 'obese' than America (in 1999).

    Bobby, you can think what you want - but is that true, or do you just want it to be true? I see a lot of sick Omanis. They don't go out much.

  9. Diabetes - a must read for all Omani's (... and many, many others!).

    Willie D.

  10. There are plenty of fat Americans, but I'm not sure about the healthier versus fatter argument. Even with relatively fit/not fat Omanis, I see obvious medical problems, from eye problems to joint/limb problems that affect their gait. I don't know if this is a higher incidence of problems or a lower incidence of treatment here.

    And for those Omanis who aren't overweight, is there a lot of exercise? I see a number of people walking around my neighborhood for exercise at night, but not all that many. I wonder how many people find somewhere to work out.

    And when people see the crazy white guy (me) running in the heat, I often get a reaction from cars full of young Omanis, but I can't tell whether they are cheers or jeers... If they were American teens, they'd be jeers, but I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt.

    By the way, the guy in the gold Mercedes who tried to hit me because he was so impatient he had to pass another car on a narrow sidestreet, stop and try to punch me instead next time...

  11. Have you considered the population demographics?

    We are talking of US of American with a population of Population 272,690,813 in 1999 compared to Oman with a population of 2,533,389, of whom 2,006,311 were Omani and 527,078 were non-Omani in 2000

    Obviously the percentage would be higher?!

  12. nothing....obviously something wasnt considered

  13. Wardat,

    I belive the statistics are compiled from a representative sample of the entire population, and then made into a percentage.

    Another way to explain it would be that 20 out of 100 Omani adults are Obese, compared to 18 out of every 100 American Adults.

    It's proportional.

    The US has a significant Expatriate population as well, I think something like 50 million Illegal immagrants? plus the millions of legal migrants.

    It's also worty noting that Statistics for Obesity in the States can vary tremendously between states. People in Florida and Texas are generally much fatter than people from Colorado or Oregon.

    Hope that clarifies?

    Dragon, thanks so much for posting this.

  14. Suburban,
    You bring up a great point. Obesity rates are higher in the south. That can be attributed to culinary culture to some degree (deep fried foods, sweet tea, etc.). But I wonder if there have been any studies done about how climate affects obesity rates. Back in the day, both in the south and in Oman, no one had any problem staying skinny. Now, as people become sedentery, folks in places like Oman, Florida, and Texas are more likely to sit around in the AC rather than get out and exercise, while people in Colorado and Oregon have much more occasion to get out and walk around at least, if not hike, climb, mountain bike, etc.

    I run and exercise avidly, but in this heat I have little motivation to exercise, even indoors... I wonder if someone established a bright, big, airconditioned gym, like Golds Gym or Curves for ladies in the U.S., how many people would be inclined to go there.

  15. Leo, you took the words out of my mouth. thanks!


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