Public Health Nutrition

HOT TOPIC – The nutrition transition

Evidence for nutrition transition in Kuwait: over-consumption of macronutrients and obesity

Sahar Zaghloula1, Suad N Al-Hootia2 c1, Nawal Al-Hamada3, Sameer Al-Zenkia2, Husam Alomiraha2, Iman Alayana2, Hassan Al-Attara2, Amani Al-Othmana2, Entessar Al-Shamia3, Mona Al-Somaiea3 and Robert T Jacksona4

a1 National Nutrition Institute, Cairo, Egypt

a2 Biotechnology Department, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, PO Box 24885, Safat, Kuwait 13109

a3 Administration of Food and Nutrition, Ministry of Health, Kuwait

a4 Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA


Objectives To describe nutrient intakes and prevalence of overweight and obesity in a nationally representative sample of Kuwaitis and to compare intakes with reference values.

Design Cross-sectional, multistage stratified, cluster sample.

Settings National nutrition survey covering all geographical areas of the country.

Subjects Kuwaitis (n 1704) between 3 and 86 years of age.

Results Obesity was more prevalent among women than men (50 % and 70 % for females aged 19–50 years and ≥51 years, respectively, v. 29 % and 42 % for their male counterparts). Boys were more obese than girls, with the highest obesity rate among those aged 9–13 years (37 % and 24 % of males and females, respectively). Energy intake was higher than the estimated energy requirements for almost half of Kuwaiti children and one-third of adults. The Estimated Average Requirement was exceeded by 78–100 % of the recommendation for protein and carbohydrates. More than two-thirds of males aged ≥4 years exceeded the Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Na. Conversely, less than 20 % of Kuwaitis, regardless of age, consumed 100 % or more of the Estimated Average Requirement for vitamin D, vitamin E, Ca, n-3 and n-6 fatty acids. Less than 20 % of children met the recommended level for fibre.

Conclusions Nutrition transition among Kuwaitis was demonstrated by the increased prevalence of obesity and overweight, increased intakes of energy and macronutrients and decreased intakes of fibre and micronutrients. Interventions to increase awareness about healthy foods combined with modifications in subsidy policies are clearly warranted to increase consumption of low-energy, nutrient-dense foods.

(Received November 21 2011)

(Revised June 02 2012)

(Accepted July 15 2012)

(Online publication September 14 2012)


  • Nutrient intake;
  • Nutrition transition;
  • Obesity;
  • Kuwait;
  • Epidemiology


c1 Corresponding author: Email