In Kuwait, People Are Becoming Obese And Diabetic Because Of Uranium

Kuwait is known to have high rates of obesity and diabetes. Scientists have been trying to find what caused the significant number of patients in the country but little efforts provided clear details. 

But a new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology, shares new information that may explain the cases of obesity and diabetes across Kuwait. Researchers found a link between uranium toxicity and the two health problems. 

The findings come from the analysis of data from 10-year-old Kuwaiti children between 2012 and 2014. The research team collected saliva samples from 94 children and analyzed their diet, salivary bacteria, salivary protein biomarkers and salivary metabolites.

All children reported no health conditions prior to the study. However, two years after taking samples, some participants showed signs of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

The analysis of their saliva samples showed that those who became obese had high levels of a biomarker for uranium toxicity. 

The biomarker, called N1-Methyl-2-pyridone-5-carboxamide (2PY), appeared at low levels in almost all children in the study. But the obese participants showed significantly higher than average levels. 

"The implication is that these children may be suffering from uranium toxicity, which may be contributing to the high rates of obesity and diabetes in Kuwait," Max Goodson, lead researcher and a professor at the Forsyth Institute in Massachusetts, said in a statement

Overweight or obese children are at risk of becoming overweight adults. The extra weight also increases their chances of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Uranium In Kuwait

In 1990 to 1991, the Middle Eastern country saw a number of airstrikes from the U.S., which delivered nearly 300 tons of uranium-containing munitions. The attack mainly targeted the central region of Kuwait. 

Goodson said the highest cases of obesity and uranium toxicity were recorded in that region during their study. Meanwhile, peripheral areas of Kuwait showed lower levels of the uranium biomarker. 

Goodson noted that his team studied only the biomarker and not directly uranium. The researchers hope to see further study to better understand how the toxicity from exposure contributed to the cases of high rates of obesity and diabetes in Kuwait.

Obesity Competitors take part in the 'King of the North' gaming festival held at the Manchester Academy venue in Manchester, northern England on March 22, 2017. Bloomberg has placed the U.S. on the 35th spot in its 2019 Healthiest Country Index due to obesity and low life expectancy in the country. Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images