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.
This article originally appeared on VICE News US.