Restaurants and cafes in Saudi Arabia will have to display the calorie content of foods for the first time, in an attempt to tackle rising levels of obesity.

The move by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, which came into effect yesterday, is part of wider efforts under Saudi’s 2030 Vision to address public health concerns.

Rising obesity levels, and the consequent increase in preventable lifestyle diseases, have long been a serious issue in Gulf countries.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE are among eight Middle East countries that have the world’s highest levels of obesity among adults, with between 27 percent and 40 percent of the population affected. In the UAE one in three children is either obese or overweight.

Saudi Arabia is not alone in making calorie-labeling mandatory. The US introduced a ­national menu labeling policy in May last year.