Qatar is not only the richest nation on earth, but also the fattest.
According to the Atlantic, the two distinctions are completely related:
In September, Qatar officially became the richest nation in the world, as measured by per capita gross domestic product. It also recently became the world’s biggest exporter of natural gas, and earned the title of fastest growing economy in the world.
By international development standards, all this growth has happened virtually overnight, making Qataris’ lifestyles much more unhealthy, and at the same time leading many to hang on resolutely to what’s left of their fleeting tribal traditions — practices that include inter-marriage between close family members and cousins.
Aware of the devastating effects that diabetes and genetic defects are having on its population, the Qatari government has organized numerous public awareness campaigns about diet and fitness.
It is also broaching the subject of genetic defects caused by inter-marriage carefully by implementing pre-marriage blood tests.
But the problem persists, and residents interviewed by the Atlantic have more than a few theories why.
“You’re not going to see Qatari ladies riding bikes,” said Honey Stinnett, who was exercising on Doha’s central boardwalk one night late September…”It’s the culture that Qatari ladies are kept inside, where they are getting fatter and fatter.”
…Hassan Tiaz, 19, Pakistani, but was born and raised in Qatar: He gestured to his own round belly. “It’s because in Qatar, we just sit, smoke, and eat junk food. There’s not too much work. Everything you have is automatic, and most of us just sit in air-conditioned offices and cars. Everything is done for us.”
Tiaz’s friend, Abdullah Rashid, 20, who wore a long white thobe to work out, blamed the culture of wealth. “Qataris are spoiled rich kids. Anytime they want to go out, they just get inside their car and go to the place,” he said.
Image courtesy of Qatar Diabetes Association.