Background: Overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions in Arabian oil-rich countries and are threatening to become a global epidemic. Excess weight has a great impact on the health and quality of life of individuals. However, prevalence of underweight in the developing world has shown a decline during the last decade.
Objective: The aim of this cross-sectional study was to determine the prevalence of underweight, overweight, and obesity, as measured by body-mass index, in a representative sample of adolescents aged 12 to 17 years in the State of Qatar.
Methods: Qatari schoolchildren (n = 3,923) from 30 schools in urban and semiurban districts responded to a sociodemographic questionnaire. Body-mass index was calculated and the prevalence of overweight and obesity was determined on the basis of cutoff points of the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) values (above the 85th and 95th percentiles, respectively, for overweight and obesity). Underweight was defined on the basis of CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) less than 5th percentile of BMI for age.
Results: The final sample consisted of 1,968 boys and 1,955 girls. The prevalence of underweight, overweight, and obesity was 8.6%, 28.6%, and 7.9%, respectively, among adolescent boys and 5.8%, 18.9%, and 4.7% among girls. The prevalence of underweight was highest at 16 years of age among boys (10.5%) and at 17 years among girls (8.9%). The prevalence of obesity was highest at 12 years of age among boys (11.7%) and at 13 years among girls (6.4%). The 95th percentile curve for boys was above the IOTF standard curve; the 95th percentile curve for girls was below the IOTF curve.
Conclusions: Adolescents living in the State of Qatar are at high risk for overweight and obesity. There is a need to establish a national program for the prevention and treatment of obesity and related complications.