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Saudi Med J. 2005 May;26(5):824-9.

Obesity in Saudi Arabia.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, College of Medicine and King Khalid University Hospital, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.



Obesity and overweight are well known risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD), and are expected to be increasing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) particularly among females. Therefore, we designed this study with the objective to determine the prevalence of obesity and overweight among Saudis of both gender, between the ages of 30-70 years in rural as well as in urban communities. This work is part of a major national project called Coronary Artery Disease in Saudis Study (CADISS) that is designed to look at CAD and its risk factors in Saudi population.


This study is a community-based national epidemiological health survey, conducted by examining Saudi subjects in the age group of 30-70 years of selected households over a 5-year period between 1995 and 2000 in KSA. Data were obtained from body mass index (BMI) and were analyzed to classify individuals with overweight (BMI = 25-29.9 kg/m2), obesity (BMI >/=30 kg/m2) and severe (gross) obesity (BMI >/=40 kg/m2) to provide the prevalence of overweight and obesity in KSA.


Data were obtained by examining 17,232 Saudi subjects from selected households who participated in the study. The prevalence of overweight was 36.9%. Overweight is significantly more prevalent in males (42.4%) compared to 31.8% of females (p<0.0001). The age-adjusted prevalence of obesity was 35.5% in KSA with an overall prevalence of 35.6% [95% CI: 34.9-36.3], while severe (gross) obesity was 3.2%. Females are significantly more obese with a prevalence of 44% than males 26.4% (p<0.0001).


Obesity and overweight are increasing in KSA with an overall obesity prevalence of 35.5%. Reduction in overweight and obesity are of considerable importance to public health. Therefore, we recommend a national obesity prevention program at community level to be implemented sooner to promote leaner and consequently healthier community.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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