Author(s): ElHazmi MA, Warsy AS
The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Saudi children from different provinces of the country and in different age groups. A total of 12,701 children (6,281 boys and 6,420 girls) with ages ranging from 1 to 18 years were enrolled during a household screening programme in different provinces of Saudi Arabia and height and weight were recorded. Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated and applying age and sex specific cut-off points for BMI the children were grouped into overweight and obese. The overall prevalence of overweight was 10.68 and 12.7 per cent and that of obesity was 5.98 and 6.74 per cent in the boys and girls, respectively. In the different provinces the prevalence of overweight ranged from 8.8 to 27.4 per cent and from 9.3 to 27.6 per cent and obesity ranged from 4.7 to 10.4 per cent and from 4.3 to 13.8 per cent in the boys and girls, respectively. Prevalence of overweight and obesity was also calculated after grouping the children into 17 groups according to age. It is concluded that overweight and obesity occur in all provinces of Saudi Arabia although at a variable prevalence. In general, girls have a higher prevalence of both overweight and obesity compared with boys. Eastern province children have the highest prevalence and the Southern province children have the lowest prevalence of overweight and obesity. When grouped according to age, overweight and obesity tend to increase with age. Suggestions are made to prevent overweight and obesity development in Saudi children.