Obesity refers to a physical condition in which there is excess in the proportion of body fat. For one to be said as an obese patient, their weight comprises 20 per cent or more than the normal weight with respect to the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI constitutes the most common measure of obesity. Indeed, there are two major categories of the increased weight disorders. For instance, when an individual’s Body Mass Index lies between 25 and 29.9, then, the person is said to be overweight. However, when an individual’s BMI exceeds 30, then the person is said to be obese. In addition, a certain condition called ‘morbid obesity’ characterizes the obesity condition. In particular, this terminology refers to a situation where the individual portrays either of the following features: 50 per cent to 100 per cent above the normal weight, 100 pounds or more above the normal weight a body mass index of 40 and above or is unarguably overweight to acutely bring about dysfunction in the normal body activities (Al Herbish As & Al Nuaim 1999).
Obesity is caused by a variety of factors most of which revolve around the eating habits. In particular, obesity occurs at a situation where the individual consumes excess calories over what the body can practically burn. To the majority of the victims, this situation arises from overfeeding and is subjecting the body to minimal if any exercises thus resulting in the accumulation of fats into toxic level in the body. However, the latter is not the cause of obese in isolation. On the contrary, there are other factors that may result individuals suffering from obesity. These includes: age, gender, genetics and psychological factors among others. The ability of the body to metabolize nutrition ingestion slows down with increased age. Consequently, an individual requires minimal ingestion of calories for the maintenance of weight (Wang & Lim 2012).
On the other hand, gender may also dictate the prevalence of obese as far as its symptoms are concerned. For instance, men possess higher metabolic rates than women. Consequently, men require more calories than women for the maintenance of their body weights. Therefore, prevalence of obesity is comparatively minimal in men than in woman. Additionally, obesity also tends to run through the family lines in genetics the same as the thinness. The psychological factors that influence eating habits also influence obesity in the process. For instance some people eat while responding to psychological feelings of sadness and boredom.
This paper therefore seeks to find out the take on the topic on obesity of children in Saudi Arabia, which has been recorded particularly high in the recent past. As a result of the prevalence of obesity and overweight, there has been a growing concern on the increased number of overweight and obese children in Saudi Arabia. According to the recently concluded finding of the department of Biochemistry in King Khalid University College, the house hold screening program has shown that there was a total of 10.68 per cent of overweight children aged between one and eighteen years old. On the other hand, there are 5.98 per cent of the children with obesity.
1.2 Problem Statement
Over the years, there have been various advances in the standards of living with noticeable economic progress in Saudi Arabia as a country and the world in general. Consequently, this has seen the citizen through a complete change in lifestyle ranging from the diet to physical exercises. Children of the contemporary period in Saudi Arabia have had minimal physical activities while at the same time have been exposed to food types, that resulted in accumulation of fats to toxic level and a resultant condition known as obesity. This paper seeks to analyze some of the causes of such behaviors and the efforts that have been taken to curb the spread of the rampancy of the same particularly in Saudi Arabia.
1.3 Research question
I).What role have the parents and the government played to arrest the situation of obesity in childhood ages and the school going kids?
II). Have there been adequate measures to combat childhood obesity for both pre-school and school going children?
III). Are the parents and the federal government to blame for the increased obesity in children in Saudi Arabia?
1.4 Research Objectives
i) To establish the root cause of childhood obesity in Saudi Arabia.
ii) To determine the role played by the cause of failure to campaigns against obesity in Saudi Arabia.
1.5 Significance of the study
The study will help realize the root cause of childhood obesity and also demarcate on the various roles played by various stakeholders within and without the family backyard. This will help lay a strategic plan which will lead to combating childhood obesity in the short-run through awareness to parents and other stakeholders.
2.0 Literature review
There have been extensive studies on the topic across the different provinces of Saudi Arabia. In particular, it has been found that the Eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia have the highest obesity prevalence while the Southern provinces have the lowest prevalence. Additionally, girls have been found out to be more prone to obesity relative to boys as pointed out earlier in the introductory section. There has been a growing prevalence in the obese incidences in children thus placing an inarguably growing concern especially in the eastern provinces of the country. Indeed, research on the children’s state of health shows that out of 7056 children aged between 2-18 years selected from schools and hospitals 19.0 per cent were overweight while 23.3 per cent were obese. In addition, more than half of all the children aged between 14 and 18 years had been weighing above the 85th percentile. Unveiled from the same study, more male children than females suffered obesity at the age between 14 and 18 years. However, both the Saudi and non-Saudi citizens shared a common distribution with the respect to Body Mass Index (Mirmiran & Azizi 2010).
Obesity has become increasingly a public health concern in the vast Arab countries and Saudi Arabia in particular. This has not only affected the individual lifestyles but also the posed entire countries’ economic burden for the treatment and control measures. Consequently, various moves have been put forward to combat the condition and avert its effect both in the short-run and in the long-run. In particular, there has been a series of Arab Conferences on obesity and physical activity. The latest of that was held in Bahrain in 2010. The outcome of this conference was the development of a prevention and control of obesity by the individual country. The main focus of the strategy was the outcomes and the indicative measures of progress (Mirmiran & Azizi 2010).
In Saudi Arabian country, there has been a major difference in the percentile of BMI in males and their female counterparts. This also has shown tremendous variance with the type of food consumed. Fast food consumption has been a major contributor towards the increment of fats. Furthermore, the percentile of the BMI is positively related to the age of the respective individuals. Indicatively, parents have been a major contributor to the prevalence of both obesity and overweight. For instance, majority of the parents in the Saudi Arabia have had diverse perceptions of their children’s weight as well as theirs as well relative to the actual weight. Consequently, many children have therefore been subjected to obesity and overweight besides other overweight related infection as a result of their parents’ ignorance and wrong perception (Aldhafiri & Reilly 2012).
2.1 Other Health Effect of Obesity
Obesity has had a major effect on the health of the victim. As pointed out earlier, it has been a pathway to other related infection and trauma. As a result, the condition has not only found major roots in Saudi Arabia but also worldwide which has been considered as a major trend with the improvement of the lifestyle. Indeed, the condition has reached epidemic echelon within the past few years in the global scene. In fact, obesity has been found to alter various acute and medical forms of individuals.
Childhood obesity is increasingly a great health problem in Saudi Arabia and one of the most vital concerns of health concerns. Indeed, the childhood obesity in the country can be attributed to the drastic rise in the level of wealth at the time of oil boom in 1930s. As a result, further studies indicate that adulthood obesity has an irrefutable link with the childhood obesity in the country. Consequently, these factors play a significant role in the obesity-related ailments such as hypertension and diabetes. Such ailments have also been discovered to be leading grounds for kidney failure and resultant deaths in Saudi country.
2.1.1 Measures that has been put in place to Combat Obesity
In Saudi Arabia, overweight and obesity have been noted as a major health challenges from the entire country. Consequently, various measures have been put in place to combat the challenge both at the family level and the national level. The society has also enhanced healthy lifestyle to avert the bad health effects. For instance, there have been introduction of school-based curriculum that have been implemented resulting in adoption of gross and ideal dietary pattern, physical practices as well as proper food habits in children thus reducing their chances of contracting obesity and other related ailments. Studies from Eastern Mediterranean countries show that the level of obesity has reached a peak point thus alarming the progress that can be made in various avenues of development under such infested regions. As a result, the occurrence of Non-communicable Diseases (NCD) escalates proportionately with obesity. Indeed, the rising prevalence of NCD within Eastern Mediterranean Region has negatively impacted the regional economy as well as deteriorating health care systems. Suggestively, moderate loss in weight is found to be practically useful in combating NCD attacks (Aldhafiri & Reilly 2012).
However, the state’s intervention in the combating of overweight has been virtually absent thus aggravating the problem. The huge insurgence of obesity in Saudi Arabia has further been aggravated by inadequacy of information about the problem. In essence, little investigations about obesity have been undertaken. Consequently, this frustrates the impacts of any program aimed at lowering the incidences of obesity in the region. In particular, obesity is simply defined, in the region, as the abnormal accretion of fats within the adipose tissue to the levels that may adversely impair one’s health. This light perception of the disorder has adversely affected the progress that has been attempting to wage war against obesity in Saudi Arabia and the EMR countries in general. However, in general, the government and the parents made little effort in combating obesity in their kids. This situation has rendered the prevention efforts quite futile (Aldhafiri & Reilly 2012).
2.1.2 Obesity Associated Ailments
The body condition of obese is a huge contributor towards other related infections. In Saudi Arabia, there have been reportedly increased frequencies of obese-related infections among the adolescent and the infants. Such ailments include: impaired glucose tolerance, mental disorders and cardiovascular diseases. Besides these diseases, there have been poor quality of life, self-esteem and restlessness revolving around the problem of overweight. Indeed, overweight in pre-school kids is foreseeable overweight in schoolchildren in the short-run. On the other hand, the overweight children are more likely to be overweight adults incorporating all other related health hazards. This has been an eminent feature of transition in obesity from the young generation to the aged generation.
Zero observance of healthy lifestyle has also contributed towards the increased obese-related infections. Experimental research has also shown that regular engagement in physical activities (PA) by infants serve an immediate advantage of both psychological and corporeal fitness. Therefore, the rising levels of obese fragmented children in Saudi Arabia have been aggravated by the reduced physical activities due to the change in lifestyles particularly after the inception of oil drilling in the country that saw the increment in wealth and a complete change of lifestyle. Furthermore, these infections resulted from the increased exposure to the chemical that instigate abnormal growth (Flamenbaum 2006).
This study focuses on the population of Saudi Arabia in order to gather requisite information that would help in the identification of causes and probable remedies towards ever rising level of childhood obesity in the Saudi Arabian. Bearing in mind that Saudi Arabia is in the Middle East, the study wishes to combine both the secondary sources to supplement the primary sources in order to overcome the almost inevitable language barrier.
3.2. Research design
Due to the wide scope of the study, the researcher will organize individuals into small groups which will be assigned to the particular regions for the study. This will enhance speed and ensure that information is collected from a representative sample. This will take the shape of a census where individual groups under common assignment will move around certain areas and explore certain secondary sources both electronic and written but majoring on the first hand information. Otherwise the same could be done by an individual over a long span of time. Finally, the entire data collected will be harmonized and lodged onto a common pool for analysis and conclusion from where the necessary recommendation will be made (Yin 1994).
In conclusion, obesity has been a concern worldwide due to its increased prevalence with the increased civilization. Advances in technology and the improvement of lifestyle have been found as some of the major contributors towards the escalating levels of obesity and overweight at the global scene. In particular, the prevalence of overweight in Saudi Arabia has continued to rise in the recent past, perhaps because of rising status singled out by the discovery of oils in the 1930s. However, the rise in obesity prevalence in Saudi Arabia has been aggravated by the parental negligence coupled with minimal attention by the government agencies and the civil society. The perception of parents with respect to obesity cripples any programme that may be initiated to combat obesity and overweight. Indeed, obesity is viewed as a merit to the victim other than a challenge until its hazardous effects are realized. Consequently, there has been very little being done to combat obesity and overweight in Saudi Arabia thus the escalating incidences of childhood obesity.