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Preventing Chronic Disease | Obesity and Associated Factors — Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 2013 - CDC

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Preventing Chronic Disease | Obesity and Associated Factors — Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 2013 - CDC

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Obesity and Associated Factors — Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 2013

Ziad A. Memish, MD; Charbel El Bcheraoui, PhD, MSc; Marwa Tuffaha, MD; Margaret Robinson, BSc; Farah Daoud, BSc; Sara Jaber, MD; Sarah Mikhitarian, BSc; Mohammed Al Saeedi, MD; Mohammad A. AlMazroa, MD; Ali H. Mokdad, PhD; Abdullah A. Al Rabeeah, MD

Suggested citation for this article: Memish ZA, El Bcheraoui C, Tuffaha M, Robinson M, Daoud F, Jaber S, et al. Obesity and Associated Factors — Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 2013. Prev Chronic Dis 2014;11:140236. DOI: Web Site Icon.


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

Map of Saudi Arabia
Figure 1. Thirteen administrative health regions, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [A text description of this figure is also available].


We thank Kate Muller at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle, Washington, for editing this manuscript. This study was financially supported by a grant from the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Author Information

Corresponding Author: Ziad A. Memish, MD, Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Assadah, Al Murabba Riyadh 12613, Saudi Arabia. Telephone: 96-61-212-4052. Email:
Author Affiliations: Mohammad A. AlMazroa, Mohammed Al Saeedi, Abdullah A. Al Rabeeah, Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Assadah, Al Murabba Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Charbel El Bcheraoui, Marwa Tuffaha, Margaret Robinson, Farah Daoud, Sara Jaber, Sarah Mikhitarian, Ali H. Mokdad, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.


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