Essay: Obesity Among Adolescent Girls in Saudi Arabia 14 18 Aged

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Saudi Arabia Obesity: Adolescent Girls

Obesity is one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. Although the patterns of obesity differ between developing and developed countries, obesity rates are generally on the increase worldwide. According to Speiser, et al. (2005), 250 million people, literally 7% of the world's current population is obese. In Canada, 40 to 60% of the population is obese while in the United States over 65% are obese and around 65% of the American population falling under this category (The Toronto Sun, 2011). The situation is not different in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia. Elser Baxter (2010) indicated that more than half of the Saudi adults are obese with 34% being the middle aged males while 45% being women. The statistics also show that obesity rate is higher among women as compared to men in Saudi Arabia and an outstanding 66% of the Saudi population rated as obese (Ministry of Health, 2005).

The fats and huge amounts of calories that are ingested is the main cause of obesity in the society. Also, other factors have led to obesity, such as, lifestyle, the junk food and other social factors. Obesity is one of the worst health menace that is fast spreading and needs an immediate intervention since over the last two decades it has increased at over 8% (Sara N., 2008).

Obesity is a serious health problem in any population, but it is of special concern among the younger individuals. The longer a person is obese, the longer that person has potentially to suffer negative health consequences of being overweight or obese. Thus when children or adolescents are obese, this condition must be considered as a life threatening condition both by the individuals and their families as well as by health professionals. Given that obesity increases the health costs associated with treating an individual. There are serious health conditions that are related to obesity such as coronary thrombosis, diabetes, increased risk for heart disease, increased risk for a range of cancers, high blood pressure and strokes. Reducing the rates of obesity among young Saudi women will also have the highly significant benefit on public health. Therefore, the governments must have health promotion and public health campaigns to address health issue.

This paper examines the causes of obesity among the adolescent girls in Saudi Arabia aged between 14 and 18 years. It endeavours to unravel the pre-exposing factors and the other related conditions that come along with development of obesity. In this study indicates (target group) what their diets are, whether or not they engage in physical exercises, their family income and the history of obesity in their families. All these were to expose possible causes of obesity. It came to be established that about 95% of obesity causes is due to the lifestyle of the youth and teenagers in Saudi for they tend to consume lots of snacks and products that contains more fats and energy (Khalid, 2008). This is also aggravated by the fact that most of these adolescent do not exercise and lead very docile lifestyles idling in front of TV sets, docile games or other inactive leisure preoccupations (Sidiga & Maha, 2010).

Background of Obesity in Saudi Arabia:


Obesity is an increasing amount of accumulated fat in the body, and obesity is an increasing body mass index (BMI). BMI is weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared (kg/m2) (WHO, 2011). Guidelines issued by the National Institutes of Health (2011) consider underweight if BMI is less than 18.5. Also, if BMI is between 18.5 -- 25 that is a healthy body. In addition, overweight if BMI is 25 or more, and obese if BMI is 30 or more. WHO can use growth reference 5-19 years to measure obesity by (age and gender) (WHO, 2011).

Data of Obesity:

Obesity is the fifth from serious diseases that lead to the death. The burden of obesity by 2.8 million adults die, 44% diabetes, 23% of heart disease and 41% of the cancer. In 2008, 1.5 billion were overweight adult and (over 200 million men and 300 million women) were obese. In 2010, 35 million with overweight were living in developing countries, and 8 million with obesity were living in developed countries (See to an appendix 1) (WHO, 2011). WHO (2011) indicates 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and 700 million will be obese in 2015.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Population in Saudi Arabia, the population of Saudi Arabia is characterized by fast growth. The age percentage of the population with obesity in Saudi Arabia is as follows: 18% of children aged 1-9 years, 38% of children aged 10-14 years; 59% of the population aged 15-64 years; 2% of the population aged 65 years and over (Ministry of Planning and Population, 2008).

According to the ministry of health, Saudi Arabia more than 3 million individuals are suffering from obesity which means 1 in every 5 persons is obese. The statistics also show that obesity rate is higher among women as compared to men (66% women in Saudi Arabia are obese) (Ministry of Health, 2005). See to the appendixes (1, 2 & 3).

Impacts of obesity:

There are various diseases that have long been associated with obesity among them being 41% of cancer, 44% of diabetes, high blood pressure and 23% heart disease, shortness of breath as noted by CDC (2010) and WHO (2011). There is a range of risks and health problems that obesity potentially exposes one to such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure and some types of cancer, arthritis, back pain, gallstones and hernia and other diseases. See to an appendix 4.

Some of the traits that are associated with being overweight or obese are generally much less known than conditions like metabolic syndrome (which is considered to be a precursor to Type II Diabetes) (Al-Qahtani et al., 2006). One of the conditions associated with being overweight or obese for females that may cause considerable psychological distress for the individuals affected is excessive facial and body hair. This is something that Saudi females would be ashamed of and is particularly true in a culture in which shame is a significant method of cultural control. Al-Ruhaily et al. (2008) found that there has been a substantial include in PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition that is caused by obesity, especially high fat deposits in the abdomen. One of the symptoms associated with PCOS is increase in body hair. These can be particularly damaging to girls and women because they affect females' concept of their gender identity. Females in Saudi Arabia are very much affected by cultural and religious attitudes about what is properly female. When they deviate from such standards, they may suffer significant emotional and psychological harm, which is all too likely in turn to produce greater stress, which may result in increased weight. This may occur either because individuals who are stressed may eat more as a method of soothing themselves (Resnick, 1997). It also may result because stress increases the body's production of certain hormones that themselves may increase weight (Jeffrey, 1996). There are other causes of excessive facial and body hair, including disturbances in the adrenal system (although this too can be the result of obesity) but the majority of women in the above study had as a cause of their increased facial hair their PCOS and thus their obesity. Also, PCOS has symptoms that range from irregular menstrual cycles, to total lack of menstrual cycles, acne and infertility (Al-Qahtani, et al., 2006 & Batton-Smith, 2000). Obesity has been noted to take toll on the social aspect of the girls in Saudi Arabia as it has been known to lead to mild depression among the obese youth (NHS, 2011).

Moreover, obesity has effect on female fertility and pregnancy. Obesity affects not just the individual herself but also has effects on the next generation; pregnant women who are obese are more likely to suffer the pregnancy complications than those who are not obese (Mabarey, et al. 2010). According to El-Gilany (2010) obese women who are pregnant are more likely to suffer from pregnancy induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, pre-eclamptic toxemia, urinary tract infections, and to a large extent may have to undergo caesarean delivery process. See to an appendix 4.

The causes of obesity:

According to WHO (2011), there are two major causes of obesity; excessive intake of energy-dense food which are too high in fats, sugar and salt yet very low on vitamins, mineral and the essential micronutrients. The other major cause is the docile or sedentary lifestyle that most Saudi people are leading due to urbanization, changing transport means, various sedentary working conditions and lack of physical exercise. There are numerous other causes of obesity like genetic factors, social aspects, and psychological disposition of individual and even cultural factors. See to the appendixes (5, 6, 7, 12 & 13).

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Obesity Among Adolescent Girls in Saudi Arabia 14 18 Aged.  (2011, October 13).  Retrieved May 25, 2019, from

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"Obesity Among Adolescent Girls in Saudi Arabia 14 18 Aged."  13 October 2011.  Web.  25 May 2019. <>.

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"Obesity Among Adolescent Girls in Saudi Arabia 14 18 Aged."  October 13, 2011.  Accessed May 25, 2019.