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      Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Abdominal Obesity among Urban Saudi Adolescents: Gender and Regional Variations

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          The nutrition transition with associated lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases has rapidly reached many developing countries, including Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the objective of this study was to examine the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and abdominal obesity among Saudi adolescents. This school-based multicentre cross-sectional study was conducted during 2009-2010 in three major cities in Saudi Arabia: Al-Khobar, Jeddah, and Riyadh. Participants included 2,908 students of secondary schools (1,401 males and 1,507 females) aged 14 to 19 years, randomly selected using a multistage stratified cluster-sampling technique. Weight, height, and waist-circumference were measured; prevalence of overweight and obesity was determined using age- and sex-specific BMI cutoff reference standards of the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF). Abdominal obesity was determined using waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) cutoffs (above 0.5). The prevalence of overweight was 19.5% in males and 20.8% in females while that of obesity was 24.1% in males and 14% in females. The prevalence of abdominal obesity in males and females was 35.9% and 30.3% respectively. Higher prevalence of obesity was observed among adolescents in private schools. Across all ages, overweight and obesity ranged from 39.9% to 45.6% in males and from 30.4% to 38.7% in females. ANCOVA, controlling for age, showed significant interaction effects (city by gender). It is concluded that the proportions of overweight, obesity, and abdominal obesity, observed among Saudi adolescents were remarkably high. Such high prevalence of overweight and obesity is a major public-health concern.

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          Most cited references 56

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          Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey.

          To develop an internationally acceptable definition of child overweight and obesity, specifying the measurement, the reference population, and the age and sex specific cut off points. International survey of six large nationally representative cross sectional growth studies. Brazil, Great Britain, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United States. 97 876 males and 94 851 females from birth to 25 years of age. Body mass index (weight/height(2)). For each of the surveys, centile curves were drawn that at age 18 years passed through the widely used cut off points of 25 and 30 kg/m(2) for adult overweight and obesity. The resulting curves were averaged to provide age and sex specific cut off points from 2-18 years. The proposed cut off points, which are less arbitrary and more internationally based than current alternatives, should help to provide internationally comparable prevalence rates of overweight and obesity in children.
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            To revise 1998 recommendations on childhood obesity, an Expert Committee, comprised of representatives from 15 professional organizations, appointed experienced scientists and clinicians to 3 writing groups to review the literature and recommend approaches to prevention, assessment, and treatment. Because effective strategies remain poorly defined, the writing groups used both available evidence and expert opinion to develop the recommendations. Primary care providers should universally assess children for obesity risk to improve early identification of elevated BMI, medical risks, and unhealthy eating and physical activity habits. Providers can provide obesity prevention messages for most children and suggest weight control interventions for those with excess weight. The writing groups also recommend changing office systems so that they support efforts to address the problem. BMI should be calculated and plotted at least annually, and the classification should be integrated with other information such as growth pattern, familial obesity, and medical risks to assess the child's obesity risk. For prevention, the recommendations include both specific eating and physical activity behaviors, which are likely to promote maintenance of healthy weight, but also the use of patient-centered counseling techniques such as motivational interviewing, which helps families identify their own motivation for making change. For assessment, the recommendations include methods to screen for current medical conditions and for future risks, and methods to assess diet and physical activity behaviors. For treatment, the recommendations propose 4 stages of obesity care; the first is brief counseling that can be delivered in a health care office, and subsequent stages require more time and resources. The appropriateness of higher stages is influenced by a patient's age and degree of excess weight. These recommendations recognize the importance of social and environmental change to reduce the obesity epidemic but also identify ways healthcare providers and health care systems can be part of broader efforts.
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                Author and article information

                J Health Popul Nutr
                J Health Popul Nutr
                Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition
                International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh
                December 2014
                : 32
                : 4
                : 634-645

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Original Papers

                Nutrition & Dietetics

                saudi arabia, adolescents, waist-circumference, obesity, bmi


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