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Year : 2002  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 35-49

Perception of body weight among Saudi school children

Department of Community Medicine and Primary Health Care, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Baha Abalkhail
Department of Community Medicine and Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, King Abdulaziz University, P.O. Box 9029, Jeddah 21413
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 23008679

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Objectives: The objectives of this study were to explore the perception of body weight among students in schools in Jeddah City and identify the main determinants of self-perceived obesity, weight management goals and practices. Material and Methods: Data were collected from a sample of Saudi school children of 42 boys' and 42 girls' schools in Jeddah city during the month of April 2000. Personal interviews were conducted to collect data on socio-demographic factors, food choices, perception of body weight, weight management goals and weight management practices, as well as the actual measurement of weight and height. Students were asked about their perception of their body weight [responses included: very underweight (thin), slightly underweight, about right weight, slightly overweight and grossly overweight (obese)]. Proportion, prevalence and 95% confidence intervals were calculated. Multiple logistic regression models were fitted to calculate the adjusted odds ratio (OR) for an attempt to lose weight and weight management practices. Results: The distribution of self-perception of body size was nearly similar to the measured body mass index (BMI) classification except for the overweight students, where 21.3% perceived themselves, as slightly overweight and 5.5% as very overweight although 13.4% were actually overweight and 13.5% were obese by BMI standards. Approximately half the students took at least 3 pieces of fruit or fruit juice servings, and a third ate at least 4 vegetable servings per day. A third of the students managed to lose weight. This coincides with the proportion of those actually overweight and obese. Around 28.0% of the students ate less food, fat or calories, 31.0% took exercise and 17.6% were engaged in vigorous exercise to lose weight or prevent weight gain. Staying for at least 24 hours without food which is a potentially harmful means of weight control was practiced by 10.0% of students. Females were less likely than males to be overweight and obese but more likely to perceive themselves as grossly overweight and more likely to try to lose weight. Factors associated with efforts to lose weight by eating less fat or fewer calories were older age, high social class, being actually obese and perceiving oneself as being obese. Staying for at least 24 hours without eating was mainly practiced by females, older age groups, and the actually obese. Exercise was done mainly by the older age groups, those with educated and highly educated mothers, obese and perceiving oneself as being obese. Vigorous exercise was mainly performed by males, younger age groups, taking < 3 pieces of fruit or fruit juice servings per day, eating < 4 vegetable servings per day, and those perceiving themselves as obese. Conclusion: Overweight and obesity are prevalent among our youth and not all obese have a correct image of their body size. Highly recommended are intervention programs of education on nutrition starting in childhood through school age to promote and ensure healthy food choices, improve student's awareness of ideal body size and clinical obesity, encourage physical exercise but discourage potentially harmful weight control measures.

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Journal of Family and Community Medicine | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 05th September, 2010