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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996 Jun;20(6):547-52.

High prevalence of overweight and obesity in Saudi Arabia.

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1
King Khalid University Hospital, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To study the pattern of body weight distribution and the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Saudi Arabia.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional national epidemiological household survey.

SUBJECT:

13,177 Saudi subjects, over the age of 15 years. The sample was adjusted for gender, age, regional and residency population distribution. The range and mean of age was similar for male and female subjects (15-95 years, 33 years).

MEASUREMENT:

questionnaire, describing the social, educational and financial status. Measurement of height, weight and calculation of body mass index (BMI). WHO classification was used for defining overweight (BMI 25-30) and obesity (BMI > 30).

RESULTS:

The mean BMI for female subjects was significantly higher than for male subjects, whether for all subjects or subjects of any given age group. There was a progressive increase of BMI for male and female subjects with age, reaching maximum at the 5th decade. The prevalence of overweight among male subjects was significantly higher than for female subjects (29% vs 27%). The prevalence of obesity among female subjects was significantly higher than for male subjects (24% vs 16%). There was a gender variation within each region with respect to the prevalence of overweight with higher prevalence of overweight among male subjects, throughout all the regions, except the Southern region, none of the differences, however, reached significance levels. The prevalence of obesity was significantly higher among female subjects, throughout all the regions. Overweight and obesity were more prevalent among illiterate, high-income subjects who were residing in urban communities.

CONCLUSION:

This epidemiological household survey has shown high prevalence of overweight and obesity among Saudi subjects. The prevalence of obesity among female Saudi subjects was among the highest reported, whether, when using the WHO criteria or the 85th percentile of US subject aged 20-29 years. The increase of prevalence of such conditions among high income subjects would reflect the perception of fatness as sign of affluence among those subjects. As the prevalence of obesity increases with age and considering that the majority of Saudi population are less than 30 years old at the present time, then, one would expect the magnitude of obesity to be even bigger in the near future. There is a need to establish programs for promoting awareness among the population of the health hazards and means of control of obesity.

PMID:
8782731
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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