Obesity among Saudi Female University Students: Dietary Habits and Health Behaviors

J Egypt Public Health Assoc. 2010;85(1-2):45-59.


Background: The remarkable economic growth in Saudi Arabia has affected the population life style negatively. The increasing problem of obesity has been reported from different regions in the kingdom. The rate of overweight and obesity reached 65.4% in the eastern region among females aged 18-74 years old. Although there is considerable amount of data on prevalence of obesity, yet, data on dietary habits and food consumption pattern are limited.

Objectives: The present study is a cross- sectional descriptive study aimed at exploring the BMI distribution among university female students. Food consumption pattern and health related behaviors were also assessed.

Material and methods: 799 students participated in the study; data were collected using self administered questionnaire. Body weight and height were measured to calculate the BMI.

Results: Among the study participants, overweight and obesity reached 47.9%. Marriage, presence of obesity among family members, frequency of drinking aerated beverages increased the risk of obesity significantly. Misperception of body image was reported by 17.4% and 54.2% of obese and overweight students respectively. Analysis of dietary habits and life styles indicated the predominance of unhealthy behaviors.

Conclusion and recommendations: The study results mandate the need for a national strategy to adopt healthy dietary habits and life styles.

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult