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Trends in overweight or obesity and other anthropometric indices in adults aged 18-60 years in western Saudi Arabia

Firas Sultan Azzeh,a Hassan Mazzhar Bukhari,a Eslam Ahmed Header,a,b Mai Adil Ghabashi,a Salma Saad Al-Mashi,a Nafeesah Mohammed Noorwalia

From the aDepartment of Clinical Nutrition, Faculty of Applied Medical Sciences, Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah, Saudi Arabia; bDepartment of Nutrition and Food Science, Faculty of Home Economics, Menufyia University, Egypt

How to cite this article:

Azzeh FS, Bukhari HM, Header EA, Ghabashi MA, Al-Mashi SS, Noorwali NM. Trends in overweight or obesity and other anthropometric indices in adults aged 18-60 years in western Saudi Arabia. Ann Saudi Med 2017; 37(2): 106-113.

DOI: 10.5144/0256-4947.2017.106


BACKGROUND: The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased considerably in Saudi Arabia in the past two decades. We conducted this study because to examine trends in weight gain with age and related anthropometric measurements in Saudi Arabia such data are limited. 

OBJECTIVE: To determine trends in overweight and obesity and examine anthropometric indices by age group.

DESIGN: Analytical cross-sectional study.

SETTING: Universities, malls, and hospitals in the cities of Mecca, Jeddah, and Al-Taif.

METHODS: Participants were selected by convenience sampling. Body weight, body fat percentage, visceral fat percentage, and skeletal muscle percentage were measured with the Omron body composition monitor device. Waist circumference, height, and body mass index (BMI) were also measured. 

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Changes in BMI, body fat percentage, visceral fat percentage, and skel-etal muscle with age for both genders. 

RESULTS: We selected 2548 Saudis, 1423 males and 1125 females, aged 18 to 60 years. A significant trend (ptrend<.001) for BMI and all anthropometric indices was observed with age for both genders. About 55.1% of the participants were overweight and obese (BMI>25 kg/m2). Obesity and overweight were more prevalent in men than in women and was observed early in both genders, at the ages of 18–19 in men and 30–39 years for women. In the age range of 40–60 years, muscle mass dropped significantly (P<.05) for both genders. Mean waist circumference and visceral fat were significantly (P<.001) higher in men than in women, but the mean total body fat percentage was higher in females than in males (P<.001). 

CONCLUSIONS: Significant trends were observed for BMI, WC, body fat, visceral fat, and muscle mass for both genders with age. National programs should be maintained to encourage physical activity and weight reduction as well as focusing on obesity-related lifestyle and behaviors at early ages to prevent weight gain and possibly muscle wasting with age. 

LIMITATIONS: There was an unequal distribution in numbers of subjects between study groups. Convenience sampling was used to recruit the participants.



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