Control of Obesity in Saudi Arabia: Community Based Approach

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Dr. Yahia M Al-Khaldi
Editor In-Chief Saudi Journal of Obesity

Obesity is a common health problem in Saudi Arabia. According to recent national and regional studies, the prevalence of obesity ranged from 29%-35% and overweight was 40%to 45%. These figures are so big that make health professionals in KSA in trouble regarding control and management this metabolic epidemic. In addition to that, successful cure resulted from medical interventions were rarely reported which make us frustrated towards dealing with obesity.

Based on these facts we should think in different way to help in solving this problem. Almost we know that obesity is not appearing suddenly and it goes through many stages as a result of personal and social causes such as overeating, intake unbalance diet and lack of performing regular physical activity. Studies proved that Saudi diet is unhealthy and contains doubles and triples of our daily calories needs which contribute to occurrence of other metabolic and noncommunicable diseases; namely( diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, heart diseases, and cancers).

As a result, control and cure of obesity should follow comprehensive, continuous, and community approach, which start, from infancy to adulthood. During infancy, breast-feeding should be mandatory, infant feeding formula should be revised and ensured that their calories content are not above the daily needs. All food items that contains full cream (milk, cheese, yoghurts) should do not be marketed .Soft drinks and potatoes must not be available at school canteen.

In schools, students spend about 30 hours per week, out of them there is one hour is allocated for physical activity mainly for males. In this regard, three hours per week is highly recommend for both genders to prevent obesity. One the major challenges to control of obesity in KSA is “weekend shopping” which practiced by many families who take their children to the big molls where they eat many items of unhealthy fast foods. To overcome this problem, community based health education programs at these molls should be activated regularly through relevant societies. In such programs, focused, simple health education massages should be emphasized on the RISK of obesity and its complications, seriousness of eating of unhealthy fast foods and important roles of regular physical activities. Finally, control of obesity should start from the community and not from the clinic otherwise, the prevalence will increases rather than decrease in Saudi Community.

 

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