Sample Report on Obesity in Saudi Arabia

A report on obesity in Saudi Arabia

The remarkable growth population across the world countries has negatively affected people’s lifestyles, with most of the people changing their lifestyles in most parts of the world. The current state is highly supported by epidemiological data, which shows that there is a high prevalence rate of lifestyle diseases such as obesity in Saudi Arabia. The rapid growth in wealth and development, has led to a total change in lifestyle, hence contributing to high obesity rates in the country, because of development, upward trend in the establishment of fast food chains, too much consumption of processed foods and lifestyles with less physical activity.

Obesity is a worldwide health problem, with a number of countries including Saudi Arabia continuing to experience an upward trend in this health condition, with this affecting a bigger percentage of the population, with the World Health Organization reporting Saudi Arabia to be among the world’s top 10 countries with high obesity rates in the Gulf region with rates of up to 35% (“Obesity in Gulf Countries”).

Obesity occurs because of the imbalance between the amounts of energy-consumed verses the amount of energy used in the day-to-day activities. It is defined as excess fat in the body (Aznar, Pigeot and Ahrens 22). The disease is turning out to be a major problem with almost seven out of ten Saudis suffering from the ailment. An epidemiological survey by the World Health Organization shows that nearly sixty percent of the population in Saudi Arabia is overweight. The prevalence in the spread of this disease measured in body mass index (BMI) among males and females showed that there are more females affected by the disease at 28% higher than males.

The country has in the recent times been seen to exhibit an upward trend in the population highly affected by obesity. The country’s significant growth in rich deposits of oil reserves, as well as rapid urban growth has led to an increase in the living conditions hence giving room for little physical activity as a result of a sedentary type of lifestyle among the people.

There is therefore great interest to help in understanding the factors that cause the sudden epidemiological changes. This will, therefore, help in unearthing the factors, as well as add to the body of literature concerning regarding the factors and programs that are being implemented in Saudi Arabia as a countermeasure of this health problem.

It is classified as a public health problem due to the increased rates of people being affected in the country, and the continued trend in cases where the disease has been of great concern with the government spending more finances to streamline and enhance prevention programs aimed at resolving the burden. This has also significantly increased the burden in terms of treatment costs, preventive as well as management care used in reducing the negative impact of the disease in the Arab population.

The treatment costs are indirectly used to cure other diseases arising due to an increase in weight such as diabetes, which has also become a pandemic in the country. However, this report will also highlight the preventive programs and initiatives that are being used in Saudi Arabia to reduce the prevalence of obesity.


Obesity as a disease is a global menace affecting most populations in the world. It is a modern disease that affects many populations in Europe, Asia and the United States. In Saudi Arabia, epidemiological data shows that most of the Saudi provinces are affected by obesity, with adolescents below the age of 18 years being obese. This is attributed to various factors with the genetic factor also playing a role. There is a relationship between lifestyle factors such as dietary elements that result to unfavorable eating lifestyles that lead to a phenomenon where many are obese (Assim and Amr 267).

There is a significant increase in the prevalence of obesity among adult males in the ages between 51-60 years. This is seen across the whole regions of the country while the males below the ages of 40 years registered significantly lower rates. In other incidences, 72.4% of the Saudi population above the age of 40 are obese (“High rates of obesity in Saudi Arabia behind diabetes and heart disease”). The measurements classified the population according to groups, including under weights, normal weight, over weight and obese.

On the other side of the picture, obesity in Saudi Arabians is genetic in nature, with genetic and molecular attributes making a given population to be susceptible to weight gain and obesity (World Health Organization 101). This exposes certain groups of ethnic communities to obesity due to the nature of lifestyle they live. This has significantly led to the upward trend in cases of obesity, affecting most of the Saudi population.

The prevalence of obesity has had a local to global outlook in Saudi Arabia. This can be attributed to cultural factors such as women in the Arabic countries being encouraged to maintain their plump bodies (Joseph et al 283), sedentary lifestyles and lack of exercise among the population.

Cultural factors also play a key role in obesity in Saudi Arabia. Women in Saudi Arabia tend to follow cultural values hence making them to be more prone to obesity than men. Culture dictates that women need to put on enlarged and long clothes that make them unaware of any changes in their body weight, hence making it impossible for the women to check on their weight leading to obesity.

Generally women have higher rates of obesity as compared to men, likeis depicted in Arab countries including Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, married women who are obese reach about 75%, compared to the male counterparts who reach only 60% (Stern and Kazaks 95) due to poor dietary attributes, low physical activity as well as high pregnancy rates.

On the other hand, there are other attributes of overweight and obesity in regard to the prevalence rates in adult males and females, as well as children and adolescents. Epidemiological data proves that adult males and females consist of 30.7% and 28.4% of overweight population, while the obese population consists of 14% and 23.6% of adult males and females. It also highlights that the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults is 36% and 35.6%, while in children is 10.7% and 12.7% respectively in both boys and girls (Parizkova and Hills 35).

On the other side, childhood obesity is also becoming a greater problem in Saudi Arabia, with most of the school going children being overweight and obese. It is estimated that around 23% of school going age are obese, with Eastern and Central regions of Saudi Arabia having the highest prevalence of obesity in the country. The rates are growing to become both a regional and national issue, with the risks affecting both the patient and the society.


Figure showing married obese men and women

Some of the issues affecting most Saudis due to the high prevalence of obesity include reduction of self-esteem and an increase in the likelihood of disease emergence. These risks have grown from both local and national level to an international level, with international bodies such as the World Health Organization highlighting and providing measure to reduce obesity in Saudi Arabia. The national health instruments are overwhelmed hence attracting the national government of Saudi Arabia to conduct a situational impact assessments to mitigate the health risks that have swept the whole country. Health risks such as hypertension have become a worldwide health issue due to its chronic nature.

The country faces an enormous risk of combating lifestyle diseases due to high rates of obesity with the country recording high levels of type II diabetes that has never been seen in other Gulf States in the region.

Health complications are risk factors that continue to devastate the country’s population contributing to a worrying trend in the emergence and rise of diseases. The population consists of 35% of overweight people while on the other hand, having a prevalence rate in obesity of 16.7%.

The population also continues to suffer from other diseases such as cancer of the kidney and kidney failure, with the country recording high number of kidney ailments. Other health risks because of obesity include hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, joint problems and metabolic syndrome (Toebes 182). Hypertension is because of abnormal blood pressure levels resulting to an increase in hypertension. In cancer, there are various health risks as well as occurrences such as colon, breast, and prostate cancer, which affect the population due to overweight (“Obesity in Saudi Arabia”).

The population is also reported to experience a high prevalence of chronic ailments such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Statistics in the Arab kingdom indicates a worrying trend in the rise of cardiovascular diseases, a phenomenon that is characterized by narrow and stiff blood vessels which does not allow a smooth flow of blood. Cardiovascular diseases manifest themselves in a population that largely consists of obese individuals. This has increased its prevalence among most Saudis.

Stepwise surveillance data

The above data from stepwise surveillance shows various diseases in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The data shows a larger percentage of people suffer from obesity at 36.1% while diabetes stands at 17.1%, with periods of physical inactivity standing closely at 33.8%. This shows how the prevalence rate of obesity is high in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

On the other hand, close to a third of the population is considered diabetic, with a much higher number of individuals suffering from hypertension. It also indicates that close to 8% of the Saudi population suffer from high cholesterol levels and coronary disease attack (“Cardiac health a concern for all”).

In addition to this, there are behavioral inclinations towards unhealthy foods that are highly consumed in the country. Most of the population consumes food and drinks with high sugar levels including fast foods. College students have poor eating habits that are unhealthy leading to high rates of weight gain. These behavioral habits towards the consumption of unhealthy foods have continued to result to an increase in weight among most of the people in the country. Irregular and poor eating habits consisting of fried foods high in fats and snacks has been highlighted to is a common eating habit among most of the students, with 31.7% reported to have consumed snacks.

However, there are many surveillance issues regarding the epidemiological study conducted to study the nature and extent in which obesity has grown to become a pandemic in Saudi Arabia. They are highlighted since they are issues that have encouraged the prevalence of obesity in Saudi Arabia.

These include diseases, due to lack of education towards the control and management of obesity, lifestyle of the members of the population as well as cultural factors. These issues tend to highlight elements that contribute to the high prevalence of obesity in Saudi Arabia.

The population lacks adequate education regarding healthy lifestyles, a factor that has continued to hinder the proper absorption of healthy diets. On the other hand, cultural factors also continue to significantly contribute to the prevalence of the disease, with the most affected ones being females. These issues are of great concern, in which a reaction towards the issues can assist the country to come up with preventive measures to reduce obesity prevalence rates in the country.

Epidemiological evidence because of obesity indicates a major risk on the health and lives of most Saudis. The country’s main threat resulting from obesity is the emergence and steep rise in lifestyle diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and diabetes. This is because it is evidently noted that most of the population suffering from over weight problems such as obesity, develop an illness in the future.

The trend and statistics in the whole world in terms of number of people who have been affected by diabetes, an obesity health complication continues to worry the Saudi government, with the country’s population continuing to face a myriad of risks due to the prevalence of communicable diseases facing the country’s population.

However, the government has improved its services aimed in improving the health of individuals. The government is adopting economic policies that have increased much participation of insurance companies towards the reduction and prevention of health problems. The health sector in the country has experienced an enormous growth in the training and development of human resources and labor needed to streamline and improve public health services (Mufti 42), by reducing the shortage of professionals in the public health sector.

This has increased the responsiveness in the health sector, with maternal health being a beneficiary. There has also been an improvement in the provision of quality care in the Saudi health care system, with the state gearing to distributing an appropriate number of health professionals within the country in order to increase the levels of medical attention as well as service delivery.

The epidemiological data based on local statistics can be used to formulate policies in the country based on the epidemiological data, which has been gathered. The data can be used to formulate guidelines in the prevention and management of health-related problems, by giving a platform where the variables, which cause a health issue, can be analyzed in order to help the public health community to mitigate the risks that contribute to the specific health issue in the community. This can help in determining the social determinants that contribute to the emergence of a disease within the community. This would help to reduce healthcare problems since the epidemiological data will be used to enhance healthcare based on social and epidemiological data, which have been identified.

This can be facilitated with dietary assessment tools and clinical based questionnaires in order to identify the causing factors of a particular social interest. These social attributes could be used to inform the public, a case, which can be used to formulate a policy or help implement programs as interventions towards improving the effectiveness of health-related programs which can benefit the community (Cwikel 264).

Social epidemiology will also assist the public health community to advocate for improved healthcare (By waters, Mclead and Napier 45), based on epidemiological data which has been collected with social attributes. This can enhance healthcare services, especially in instances where a health problem is attributed to social elements that can be addressed in a social manner within the community, with social predictors on the other hand aiding in the re-design of medical systems (Berkman, Kawachi and Glymour 463), in order to respond to health issues appropriately.

Saudi Arabia continues to struggle in fighting the prevalence of obesity. However, a combination of cultural, lifestyle and lack of education elements need to be included in order to help reduce the menace. Obesity continues to cause damage to the population, with an increase in lifestyle diseases.However, epidemiology plays an important role in understanding the dimensions regarding causes of diseases in a population. This will highlight the causing factors in order to help understand the nature, effects and causing elements of a particular disea

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