With all the fast food available combined with a general aversion to exercise, it turns out that there is a bit of an obesity problem in the UAE. While the statistics are nothing shocking, obesity is a problem usually associated with the US and it is easy to forget that the potential is pretty good for the same issues.
The difference here is that many Emiratis aren't even aware that there is a problem. In a survey done by a health organization, despite over 2/3 of the people questioned being overweight, 3/4 of the people thought that they were normal weight. In addition, 99% of the people questioned thought heart disease wouldn't affect them even though it is the number one killer in the UAE.
With the recent wealth in the UAE, Emiratis have everything done for them. In addition, there are few sports programs in local schools and little health education. Colleges are beginning to require some health classes, but by the time students reach this point, it's a bit too late. This article talks about some of the ways in which Emiratis are being made aware of the problem and programs that are being implemented to help people live a healthier lifestyle.
While getting people as a whole to move towards being healthy may not work, I have seen positive changes with some overweight students who are in the school's gym a few times a week. Even though it isn't that common, it is nice to know that people who want to change are being given the tools.