Prevalence of overweight and obesity among Kuwaiti adolescents and the perception of body weight by parents or friends

PLoS One. 2022 Jan 4;17(1):e0262101. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0262101. eCollection 2022.


Objective: Recently, the State of Kuwait has witnessed a steady rise in the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents. The present study aims to provide an update on the rate of overweight or obesity among Kuwaiti adolescents and examines the associations between adolescents' overweight/obesity levels and their perception of body weight as seen by parents or friends.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Kuwaiti secondary schools and included adolescents between the ages of 15 and 18 years, using a multistage stratified random sampling method. Body weight and height were measured. A specifically designed self-report questionnaire was used to assess parents' and friends' perceptions of an adolescent's body weight.

Results: A total of 706 adolescents were included the study. The prevalence of overweight or obesity among Kuwaiti adolescents reached nearly 50%, with males (54.3%) having a significantly higher overweight or obesity percentage than females (44.6%). No significant difference in the prevalence of obesity relative to age, from 15 to 18 years, was found. In addition, logistic regression analysis, adjusted for age and gender, revealed that adolescents perceived their parents (p = 0.011 and p < 0.001) or friends (p = 0.002 and p < 0.001) as more likely to classify their weight as overweight or obese, respectively.

Conclusion: Overweight or obesity levels appear to be high among Kuwaiti adolescents, and appears to have reached a plateau recently. Efforts to combat obesity and promote physical activity and healthy nutrition are needed. Future studies should seek to identify important moderators of parental and social underestimation/overestimation of children's overweight or obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Height
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Friends / psychology*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Kuwait / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Social Perception / psychology*

Grant support

For your information the corresponding author, Professor Hazzaa M. Al-Hazzaa’s research has been funded by the Deanship of Scientific Research at Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University through the Fast-track Research Funding Program.