AMMAN — Jordan finds itself grappling with a pressing health concern as the country witnesses an alarming rise in obesity rates, with national obesity risk standing at a 7.5 out of 10 and childhood obesity risk an 8 out of 11, according to the World Obesity Observatory Federation.

Experts suggest that reversing the obesity trend in Jordan requires a collective effort from individuals, communities, healthcare professionals and policymakers. By prioritising education, implementing effective policies and promoting healthy habits, the country can take significant strides towards a healthier future, they say.

According to the World Obesity Observatory Federation, which represents national and regional associations dedicated to the study and management of obesity and related comorbidities, in Jordan the female obesity rate stands at 40.4 per cent while the obesity rate among males stands at 24.2 per cent.

Kamel Ajlouni, the head of the National Diabetes Centre, warned against the increasing rates of obesity in Jordan, during the inauguration of the UJ Agriculture Faculty’s scientific day on the occasion of its golden jubilee on Tuesday.

Ajlouni pointed out that Jordan ranks among the top 10 most obese countries globally, with a staggering 78 per cent of the population affected, as reported by local news agencies.

Healthcare professionals warned that rising obesity rates demand attention from healthcare professionals, policymakers and individuals alike.

“The prevalence of obesity in Jordan is reaching alarming levels,” endocrinologist Omar Khalidi told The Jordan Times.

Khalidi added that rising obesity rates increase the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer, negatively impacting the overall quality of life for individuals and burdening the healthcare system.

Echoing these sentiments, nutritionist Amal Saket emphasised the role of unhealthy dietary habits in the escalating obesity rates.

“The excessive consumption of fast food, processed snacks, sugary beverages and a lack of portion control are contributing factors to rising obesity rates,” Saket told The Jordan Times.

Additionally, sedentary lifestyles, where physical activity is limited, worsen the situation, said Saket.

Addressing the urgent need for solutions, Khalidi suggested a diversified approach.

“Education and awareness campaigns about the importance of a balanced diet, portion control and regular exercise are crucial,” Khalidi said.

“We need to engage schools, communities and families to promote healthy eating habits and active lifestyles from an early age,” said Khalidi.

Saket also emphasised the significance of policy changes. She highlighted the need to implement stricter regulations on food marketing targeted at children and promoting healthier food options in schools, noting that increasing access to “affordable” fresh produce is an essential step.

“Collaboration between the government, healthcare sector and food industry is vital in addressing this issue comprehensively,” Saket added.

Efforts are already underway to combat the rising obesity rates. The Ministry of Health has launched several initiatives, including awareness campaigns and school programmes to educate children about healthy food options and eating habits.

Together, Jordanians can reclaim their well-being and reduce the burden of obesity on the nation’s healthcare system, ensuring a brighter and healthier future for generations to come, said Saket.

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