An 840 pound Saudi man died last week from complications associated with his weight and his passing is loudly being mourned online. Is it a sign of our digital times or a new awareness of the obesity epidemic in the Middle East?
Majid Al Dossary achieved celebrity status in the kingdom in part due to media coverage of his weight treatment, which had been ordered by King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz. Outpourings of sympathy on Saudi Twitter this week out-trafficked postings on Syria, an indication of how the kingdom has been affected by the popular 26-year-old’s death.
Al Dossary had been hospitalized for the past 25 months at the Medical Tower in Dammam. He was due to be airlifted to America for further treatment when he died after developing pneumonia. As per Islamic tradition, he was buried on the same day of his death; his burial hastened due to the fact that his body was too large to fit into a mortuary fridge. According to Arabic daily Al Eqtisadiya, sixteen people were needed to carry the body.
Bloggers and social media users paid tribute to Al Dossary’s courage and upbeat attitude, then proceeded to either criticize doctors for not providing the international care his case required – or – lambast his family for filing suit against the Health Ministry for alleged neglect.
Authorities refute the charges, saying they had been monitoring his case closely and also that of his sister Rana, who weighs 620 pounds.
Rana is also hospitalized for complications due to obesity. See a pattern here? Apparently, so does the Saudi blogosphere.
Commentary is harshly critical of the man’s litigious family. “It is clear that this man could not go out shopping and buy his own food, so perhaps the family should be sued for feeding him so much!”, posted Lorraine. “Getting free Medical at Saudi and overseas and still want to sue,” said Good Thinker, with Exasperated adding, “The only neglect I can see in this case is that of the parents who allowed the boy’s weight to get so high.”
Al Dossary was one of several subjects undergoing medical treatment for obesity under Royal order (and Royal funding). Green Prophet previously reported on a 19-year-old Saudi man weighing 1,345 pounds and believed to be the heaviest living human, who was forklifted to hospital in August for medical treatment, also under Royal decree.
The Worldometers website keeps a running tally of the world’s obese population, sourcing it’s data from the World Health Organization. Currently, Worldometers reports that there are 526 million obese people in the world (having a BMI of 30 or more), and another 1 billion people considered overweight. Against an approximate world population of 7 billion people, that means approximately 5% of us are obese and another 14% are overweight.
Globally, obesity is now deadlier than hunger. A horrific fact with fatal consequences that don’t seem to have any affect on our appetite.