Global Epidemic Obesity

Global Epidemic Obesity

ISSN 2052-5966
Original Research

Obesity prevention interventions in Saudi Arabian children-building the evidence base: An in-depth analysis of sociodemographic characteristics and dietary habits of obese and normal weight schoolchildren

Hmidan A. Alturki1,2*, Denise SK Brookes1 and Peter SW Davies1

*Correspondence: Hmidan A. Alturki

1. Children's Nutrition Research Centre, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Author Affiliations

2. King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


Background: A better understanding of the relationships between obesity, socio-demographic variables and eating practices is necessary for effective obesity prevention. Our study aimed to provide an in-depth investigation into the food habits and consumption trends, in urban socio-demographic obese and normal weight Saudi Arabian children.

Methods: A multicentre cross-sectional study was conducted from December 2015 to March 2016, in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. Participants were divided into groups (obese, normal weight), and further stratified by sex. The total cohort comprised of 1023 children, aged 9.00 to 11.99 years, and 2046 parents/ guardian. Participants in each group were randomly selected using a multistage stratified cluster-sampling technique. A self-paced questionnaire collected data of: weight; height; waist-circumference; BMI; and body fat composition in children. In parents, only weight, height, and BMI were recorded.

Results: Lack of space in the home environment to do physical activity was identified as a significant risk factor for obesity, between obese and normal weight groups (p=0.000), and stratified by sex (boys, p=0.006; girls, p=0.014). Calories consumed/day were significantly different between groups (p=0.000), and stratified by sex (boys, p=0.000; girls, p=0.034). These significant differences continued if soft drinks were freely available in the home fridge (boys, p=0.000; girls, p=0.024; groups, p=0.000), and for children with good close friends (p=0.000). Furthermore, family income (p=0.027); eating snacks before sleep (p=0.000); eating away from home (p=0.000); eating from school canteen (p=0.042); eating while going back home (p=0.000); parent reading food labels (p=0.002), and keeping non-core food freely available at home (p=0.009), were all significantly different between groups, and specifically, among boys. Obese parents clearly showed to be a high-risk factor for their children to be obese in both groups, especially mothers’ weight (p=0.034), mothers BMI (p=0.038), and fathers BMI (p=0.037).

Conclusion: Our results highlight and provide specific opportunities for valid targeted intervention strategies to prevent and manage obesity amongst Saudi Arabian children.

Keywords: Childhood obesity prevention; Socio demographic, Food intake, Dietary pattern, Schoolchildren, Saudi Arabia

ISSN 2052-5966
Volume 6
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