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Obesity and Associated Factors — Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 2013
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    Introduction

    Data on obesity from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are nonexistent, making it impossible to determine whether the efforts of the Saudi Ministry of Health are having an effect on obesity trends. To determine obesity prevalence and associated factors in the KSA, we conducted a national survey on chronic diseases and their risk factors.

    Methods

    We interviewed 10,735 Saudis aged 15 years or older (51.1% women) through a multistage survey. Data on sociodemographic characteristics, health-related habits and behaviors, diet, physical activity, chronic diseases, access to and use of health care, and anthropometric measurements were collected through computer-assisted personal interviews. We first compared sociodemographic factors and body mass index between men and women. Next, we conducted a sex-specific analysis for obesity and its associated factors using backward elimination multivariate logistic regression models. We used SAS 9.3 for the statistical analyses and to account for the complex sampling design.

    Results

    Of the 10,735 participants evaluated, 28.7% were obese (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2). Prevalence of obesity was higher among women (33.5% vs 24.1%). Among men, obesity was associated with marital status, diet, physical activity, diagnoses of diabetes and hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension. Among women, obesity was associated with marital status, education, history of chronic conditions, and hypertension.

    Conclusion

    Obesity remains strongly associated with diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension in the KSA, although the epidemic’s characteristics differ between men and women.