(NEW YORK) — As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tucks in for another three weeks of fasting for the holy month of Ramadan, Dubai has announced a weight loss contest for the gulf nation’s heftiest residents.
In response to rising levels of obesity, UAE residents can now enter “Your Weight in Gold,” a contest that pays contestants to sweat it out. For every kilogram, or 2.2 pounds dropped, contestants take home one gram of gold. At current prices, that’s about $45 — certainly enough to cover the monthly gym membership.
The top three biggest losers will receive a share of nearly $28,000 in gold coins.
The contest kicks off on Friday and contestants must show up to weigh-in on public scales after the nightly Iftar meal.
Thanks to partnerships with the Dubai Gold and Jewelry Group and the Dubai Multi Commodities Center, the city says there’s no cap on the gold payouts.
“It depends how much the people are expecting to lose. We have not set a limit,” Hussain Lootah, Dubai’s director general, told The National.
The wealthy gulf nation faces one of the highest obesity rates in the world, thanks in part to the growing popularity of fast-food chains. The World Health Organization estimates 50 percent of adults are obese in the UAE and expects the rate of diabetes to rise to 19.3 percent by 2030.
“When people come here they become obese,” Dr. Fuad Ahmed, an obesity surgery consultant, told The National. ”The curse of this civilization is that we have stopped using our bodies and we eat too much.”
The winners will be announced at the final weigh-in on Aug. 16.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Susan Scutti, CNN
Heather Simonsen, KSL.com
Kevin Conlon, Euan McKirdy and Johanzynn Gatewood, CNN