President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is demanding Egyptians lose weight.
In televised comments earlier this month, the general-turned-president railed about the number of overweight people he sees and told Egyptians they must take better care of themselves.
He said physical education should become core curriculum at schools and universities and suggested TV shows shouldn’t let presenters or guests on the air if they are overweight.
The next morning, before sunrise, he drove his point home by energetically cycling to the national military academy in a Cairo suburb.
In black sweat pants, a dark top and a matching baseball hat, he told cadets that he was adamant they wouldn’t leave basic training before fulfilling fitness requirements.
It was the typical style of President el-Sisi, who sees even the smallest minutiae as needing his shaping and weighs in on anything from road building to filmmaking, often while scolding and haranguing Egyptians to correct their behaviour.
But the President’s critics said he was fat-shaming and taking an elitist approach to a problem whose roots lie to a large extent in poverty.
They also criticised him for not offering concrete plans to combat obesity and spread fitness.
Prices for food — particularly fruits and vegetables — have spiralled because of economic reforms introduced by President el-Sisi, often making cheaper junk foods more appealing.
But this isn’t a problem limited to Egypt alone.