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Obesity and public health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Erica DeNicola , Omar S. Aburizaiza , Azhar Siddique , Haider Khwaja and David O. Carpenter EMAIL logo

Abstract

Overweight and obesity are now a global epidemic, with more than one in five people qualifying as obese worldwide. These conditions are accompanied by excessive rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) related to overweight, like type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. Saudi Arabia, which has become increasingly westernized over the past few decades now has one of the highest prevalence rates of overweight and obesity, even in children. This puts the population at great risk for increased rates of NCD mortality. Competing cultures is partly to blame, as the combination of persisting traditional Saudi cultural practices, modern cultural changes, and economic prosperity has created an obesogenic environment that promotes unhealthy eating, sedentary lifestyles, and weight gain. Overweight and obesity are more prevalent in Saudi women than in Saudi men. Interventions targeting the environment are needed in order to promote greater health through healthy eating decisions and increased physical activity or exercise (especially for women).


Corresponding author: David O. Carpenter, Director, Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany SUNY, 5 University Place, A217, Rensselaer, NY 12144, USA, Phone: +518-525-2660, E-mail: ; and Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University at Albany School of Public Health, One University Place, Rensselaer, NY, USA

Acknowledgments

This review was supported by the King Abdulaziz University of Saudi Arabia.

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Received: 2015-6-10
Accepted: 2015-8-13
Published Online: 2015-9-4
Published in Print: 2015-8-1

©2015 by De Gruyter

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