Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Study Warns Against Child Obesity | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- The results of recent scientific study in Saudi Arabia highlights the dangers of increasing rate of obesity amongst children and its related harmful diseases. Obese children are prone to numerous blood vessel diseases such as high cholesterol levels, as well as diabetes or high blood pressure.

The study carried out by Dr Iman Al-Ayoubi, who specialized in nutrition and dietetics at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, has re-affirmed that spending large amounts of time on immobile activities such as surfing the Internet, watching satellite channels, and playing electronic games is one of the main causes of obesity among children. These habits encourage laziness especially as few children take part in exercise. Many children are also consuming large amounts of fast foods containing harmful fats, and are completely unaware of the importance of a healthy diet.

Dr Iman al-Ayoubi states, &#34Obesity is related to the type of work that people are involved in. Those who spend long hours at their desks without any physical activity are more likely to suffer from obesity. Bad eating habits also increase the risk of obesity.&#34 She further adds, &#34There is an obvious deficiency in programs that raise awareness amongst children of the dangers of obesity. Schools are partially responsible since children spend a long time at school and easily pick up the bad habits of their fellow pupils. Many children have become accustomed to soft drinks and fast-food meals.&#34 The study counted obesity as one of the chronic diseases that can be effectively treated depending on the amount of fat in a person”s body and the duration in which the excessive weight remains.

Dr. Iman stressed the requirement of treatment for obesity as it harmful for numerous organs of the human body. The blood vessels to the heart are the most sensitive to obesity but it can also cause other diseases such as diabetes, high levels of cholesterol and fat, high blood pressure and more.

Dr Iman further explained that the Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most widely used tool to measure one”s weight status. One can calculate the BMI by dividing their bodyweight in kilograms by their height in meters. The measurement will then determine whether one is underweight, normal, overweight or obese. If the final mass is between 25 and 29, this means that the person is overweight; however, exceeding 30 indicates obesity.

Professor Iman Al-Ayoubi says that extra weight does not necessarily mean extra fat. Football players for example may have an excess due to the weight of their muscles without storing extra fat in their bodies, therefore they are not considered obese.