During childhood, I considered children with increased body size and weight as healthier than those who were slim. Besides, parents could ensure that their children get the best tasty snacks and other junk from the market to enhance their children’s physical appearance. Often, children and young adolescents spent more hours watching movies and playing video games and had very few physical activities. However, in the long run, the children developed obesity and overweight during adolescence due to poor lifestyle. Ironically, what I considered ‘quality life’ during childhood translated into critical health conditions in adolescents. Several studies show that the prevalence of obesity and overweight is rapidly increasing, especially in Saudi Arabia. Although obesity and overweight are evident across all ages, current statistics reveal the highest cases among adolescents. In this article, Al-Hazzaa et al.  assess lifestyle factors responsible for obesity and overweight during adolescence. Therefore, I chose this article to learn more about lifestyle habits that lead to obesity and overweight in children and adolescents.
Saudi people do not understand the risks of being overweight and how that might lead to obesity, a huge epidemic, especially for children and adolescents. Furthermore, this study explains the association between lifestyle factors and obesity among Saudi adolescents. According to the article, the participants were 2906 adolescents between (14-19) years old in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al-Khobar, in a questionnaire that inquiries about different lifestyle factors. The questionnaire was about three main lifestyle factors which are physical activity, sedentary activities and dietary habits. The result that came out as an outcome of this study was taken from diverse ways. It begins with the studying sample that was taken in two stages. The first stage was to select the students’ schools involved in this study by systematic random sampling. The second stage was to choose the classes of the students by random sampling design. Secondly, the researcher took the level of physical activity, which was assessed by self-reported questionnaires about sports and movement. Thirdly, researchers asked about the sedentary behaviors by self-reported questionnaires about how much time they spend or lose on entertainment like watching TV or playing video games. Finally, eating habits were about their eating routine, as the number of meals per day and breakfast per week.
As mentioned earlier, the authors investigated the lifestyle factors contributing to the high obesity and overweight prevalence rate in Saudi students. They revealed that sedentary behaviors, poor dietary habits, and low physical exercise frequency are the main lifestyle factors for overweight and obesity. Lifestyle behaviors such as physical activity frequency, dietary habits, and sedentary behaviors were obtained using frequency questionnaires. Besides, other measurements such as participants’ height, weight, waist circumference, and BMI were assessed. Nevertheless, the data collection methods revealed two critical shortcomings related to recall bias and the failure to assess all the variables comprehensively. Firstly, they were prone to recall bias. For instance, the students were likely to provide inaccurate information regarding their physical activity frequency, the prevalence of sedentary behaviors, and dietary habits. According to Althubaiti, reporting past incidences is highly associated with recall bias, limiting the reliability of findings.  Secondly, the researchers failed to consider important variables during their assessment of lifestyle factors. For instance, the researchers asked dietary questions such as eating intervals, breakfast frequency, and consumption of sugary foods and vegetables but failed to measure the portion of food consumed per meal. Research revealed that a detailed assessment of dietary variables should be performed to obtain the actual eating habits of participants.  Therefore, the omission of essential dietary variables was likely to undermine the reliability of the results.
The objective of this study was to analyze the relationships between obesity, overweight and various lifestyle factors such as physical activity and dietary habits among Saudi adolescents aged 14-19 years. The study established that a poor lifestyle is associated with an increased prevalence of obesity and overweight in Saudi secondary school students. Nevertheless, there were critical gaps in the data assessment, such as recall bias and failure to measure the participants’ food portions in every meal, thus limiting the accuracy of results. Therefore, further studies need to be conducted to fill the gaps in this study. Further studies should provide more information about this epidemic, evaluate how lifestyle factors associate with obesity and realize its consequences, especially in adolescents and young adults. Also, parents should ensure that their children have regular schedules for physical activities and consume a balanced diet in every meal.
- Al-Hazzaa HM, Abahussain NA, Al-Sobayel HI, Qahwaji DM, Musaiger AO. Lifestyle factors associated with overweight and obesity among Saudi adolescents. BMC public health. 2012 Dec;12(1):1-1. Available from: https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-12-354
- Althubaiti A. Information bias in health research: definition, pitfalls, and adjustment methods. Journal of multidisciplinary healthcare. 2016;9:211. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc4862344/
- Alhazmi A, Aziz F. Dietary assessment and its awareness in female students from different Health Departments: unhealthy diet with normal BMI. Journal of Public Health Research. 2020 Jul 28;9(3). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc7445438/