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Alsomali, Meer, Korbi, Elkhatib, Haddawi, Bin Salman, BinDajam, and Zoghbi: Lifestyle habits and their relation to measures of obesity amongst adults living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – a cross-sectional study

Introduction: Numerous studies suggest that certain lifestyle factors are associated with obesity. The combinations of factors are dependent on ethnicity as well as prevailing socioeconomic characteristics. Even though the prevalence of obesity and overweight in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is high, studies of associated factors are lacking.

Objectives: To investigate the relationship between sociodemographic and lifestyle factors and different measures of obesity amongst adults residing in Jeddah.

Materials and methods: A cross-sectional design was used employing a multistage geographical cluster random sampling technique to select survey locations. Only families living in KSA for ≥ 5 years were included. Adults in selected households were interviewed to obtain dietary and sociodemographic information, and their anthropometric measurements (weight, height, waist and hip circumference) were taken. Body mass index and waist–hip ratio were calculated and used as measures of obesity and abdominal adiposity, respectively, using standard cut-off points for classification.

Results: 331 adults (153 male, 178 female) were included, mean age was 37.12 ± 13.58, 38.1% of them were obese and 55.3% were centrally obese. A higher percentage of abdominal obesity was noted amongst females and smokers (P = 0.000 and 0.050, respectively). A lower percentage of abdominal and general obesity was noted amongst younger and highly active participants. General obesity was also higher amongst non-educated subjects (P = 0.018). Increased frequency of eating fast foods, number of meals per day and eating breakfast in females were all associated with increased abdominal obesity, while increased frequency of smoking was associated with lower percentage in males.

Conclusions: Obesity was prevalent in the studied population. Different measures of obesity are gender dependent, and are not similarly affected by sociodemographic and lifestyle factors. The design of health programmes and strategies to reduce the tendency of obesity and combat it by dealing with associated factors based on gender differences is a health priority.

Acknowledgements: A special note of appreciation goes to Dr Suhad Bahjri, Professor of Clinical Biochemistry and Dr Ashwak Abdul-latif, Professor of Community Medicine, for their help with this study.

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