The government of Dubai government will pay gold to health-conscious residents for dropping some weight over the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It’s part of Dubai’s “Your Weight in Gold” initiative.
The 30-day weight-loss challenge is part of a national campaign to fight flab in the Arab Gulf state, where health officials are spending millions to control obesity, with child obesity an especially critical problem.
Registered contestants can earn a gram of gold, currently worth about $42, for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) lost by August 16th. The three “biggest losers” are eligible to win gold coins worth up to 20,000 dirhams ($5,400). To qualify for the bullion, contestants must drop a minimum 2 kgs (4.4 pounds) .
“Participants must have excess weight to reduce and stay away from unhealthy methods to lose weight and should be present on the final day to measure weight,” Dubai Municipality said in a press release, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Oil wealth, high household incomes, and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle contribute to the general trend towards overeating.
Add Dubai’s adoption of western-style diets (high in sugar, salt and fat) and an explosion of diabetes, hypertension and obesity results. According to the International Diabetes Federation, five of the 10 countries with the highest incidence of diabetes are located within the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.
Want to calculate how you squeeze into the world obesity index? Check out the calculator pulled together by a team of researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (link here).
“Your Weight in Gold” was launched to coincide with Ramadan, when the faithful fast during daylight hours. Upon breaking that fast, many tuck into traditional dishes heavy on starch and fat and sugar that push their daily calorie intake well above the norms for non-fasting times. Daytime activity drops during Ramadan, so eating too much is naturally paired with burning fewer calories.
Dubai does things big. It boasts epic malls (with vending machines that sell gold!) and fantasy theme parks. It’s cops drive Lamborghinis and it may soon have the world’s biggest airport. Seems like they’re finally putting a value on being a bit smaller.