FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH OBESITY AND PERCEIVED BARRIERS TO WEIGHT MAINTENANCE AMONG SAUDI WOMEN OF REPRODUCTIVE AGE IN JEDDAH CITY.
Alharbi, Muneera MohammedRashed
Jackson, Robert T
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The prevalence of obesity is significantly higher in Saudi women (33.5%) than men (24.1%), however, the information surrounding the risk factors of obesity and barriers to maintaining a healthy weight among Saudi women of reproductive age is deficient due to the limited number of studies that assessed obesity among them. Using a representative sample of 15-49 years old Saudi women attending Jeddah Public Health Care Centers (JPHCCs), this study aims to (1) identify obesity risk factors, (2) explore the barriers to maintaining a healthy weight, and (3) explore the obesity rates and physical activity (PA) levels. A cross-sectional study was conducted in 2014 using a stratified two-stage cluster sampling design comprising 408 Saudi women attending 12 JPHCCs. Body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) data also were obtained. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire consisting of socio-demographic factors, eating habits (EHs), PA, and perceived barriers to weight maintenance. Of the 408 women evaluated, 33.8% were obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), 25.1% were abdominally obese (WC ≥ 88 cm), and 31.2% were physically inactive. Age, family history of obesity, and EHs were significant risk factors for both general and abdominal obesity. A high proportion of women faced great barriers in maintaining their weight related to healthy eating (HE) or PA (49.2% versus 50.7%). The most common barriers to HE and PA in the study group were a lack of willpower, skills, knowledge, enjoyment, time, resources, and social influence. Social norms and hot weather had a great impact on the women’s PA level. There was a positive significant association between EHs and PA level and between HE and PA barriers, but no significant associations were found between barriers to maintaining weight and either type of obesity. An intervention program to combat obesity is thus greatly needed, especially one that focuses on eliminating the identified obesity risk factors, and barriers to maintaining a healthy weight.