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Prevalence of overweight and obesity among Saudi primary school students in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia

Waleed Hamoud Al-Enazy, Fayes Salem Al-Enazy, Feraeh Ageel Al-Enazy, Majed Aeed Al-Qahtani.


Background: Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. The problem is global and the prevalence is increasing at an alarming rate. Aims & Objective: To determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity as well as to analyze some factors that could be related to them among primary school students (6-12 years old) in ALAbnaa primary schools in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia.

Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among primary schools students in ALAbnaa Schools in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. Sampling frame included all boys and girls studying in ALAbnaa primary Schools in Tabuk. In the first stage, a sample of four primary schools had been selected by simple random technique - two primary school for boys and two for girls. In the second stage, stratified sampling had been used. The data was collected through a self-administered validated questionnaire. Height and weight of each selected student were measured and BMI was calculated. Recently published 2007 WHO growth charts – which depended on data from widely different ethnic backgrounds and cultural settings were used for defining obesity and overweight among students.

Results: Of 350 self-administered questionnaires distributed to the students, 331 questionnaires were returned, giving a response rate of 94.6%. Their age ranged between 6 and 13 Years (Mean=9.7 years) and (SD=2.1 years). Slightly more than half of them were males (53.8%). The prevalence of overweight and obesity among male primary school students were 7.3% and 17.4% respectively while their prevalence among female students were 12.4% and 20.9% respectively. Overall, the prevalence of overweight among primary school students in Tabuk was 9.7% and that of obesity was 19%. The prevalence of overweight and obesity were more significant among students living with both parents, of highly educated parents, of history of maternal obesity, of working mothers and of smaller family size.

Conclusion: The results of the current study provide alarming evidence-based data on the considerable prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity among primary school children in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia.

Key words: Prevalence; Obesity; Overweight; Students; Saudi Arabia

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