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American fast food took over Kuwait and made its people obese

As consumers in the U.S. become more health conscious, fast-food sales are plateauing​, but in Kuwait they're only going up.

Obesity is now the biggest health issue facing Kuwait — and the country's obsession with American fast food could be to blame.

The very first McDonald's restaurant appeared in Kuwait on a U.S. military base set up to support the 1991 invasion of Iraq. Since then, the industry has rapidly expanded: There are now hundreds of U.S. fast-food restaurants in Kuwait.

As consumers in the U.S. become more health-conscious, fast-food sales are plateauing, but in Kuwait they're only going up. And as a result, it has become one of the most obese countries on the planet.

"Anything American is popular here," Dr. Mohsen Bagnied, a professor at the American University of Kuwait, told VICE News. "Many families look at it as a fun way to spend the weekend or the evening."

With demand high, and costs low, Bagnied expects American fast-food companies to continue investing heavily in the Middle East for years to come.

VICE's Gianna Toboni visited Kuwait, where health officials are confronting a rising obesity crisis and an unlikely obsession with U.S. fast food.