Factors Influencing Childhood and Adolescent Obesity in the Arab Gulf States: A Systematic Review

  •  Alaa E. Alaa E. Badawi    
  •  Hamda M. Almansoori    
  •  Reem A. Alnuaimi    
  •  Fares M. Howari    


BACKGROUND: About one third of the population in the Arab Gulf States are overweight and obese. Among children and adolescents, however, the prevalence of obesity is at rates higher than those reported worldwide.

OBJECTIVES: The present study aims to systematically review and evaluate factors related to and affecting childhood and adolescent overweight and obesity in the Arab Gulf States.

METHODS: We conducted a comprehensive and systematic search in PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE(R), Embase and Embase Classic to identify studies reporting on the risk factors of overweight and obesity in children and adolescent in the study region.

RESULTS: We examined 22 studies and identified 12 reports to be included into this systematic review. The reviewed studies were from six Arab gulf States (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar) and examined 9,723 children. Approximately 30 different risk factors were identified from the selected studies. These were generally falling under six main risk factors including unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, family-related factors, (particularly mother physical activities and food habits), child feeding practices during infancy, child sleeping pattern and low intake of or deficiency in micronutrients important for growth.

CONCLUSION: This study further establishes several of the universal-and regional-specific risk factors that influence the increased prevalence of childhood and adolescent overweight and obesity in the Arab Gulf States. Consideration of these risk factors is critical for developing effective policies and practices that address this public health concern to curb and reverse the rise in its prevalence within the Gulf Region.

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