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        Business Press Releases      









28 January 2001 


Obesity is a disease

 Some people may be under the impression that obesity is simply a shape-up or appearance issue. This is not true! Obesity is regarded as one of today’s most common diseases. Data gathered from around the world shows a rapid increase in the prevalence of obesity in the past 10-15 years. Obesity tends to be more common in highly industrialized (developed) countries and upper-class societies where there is a sedentary lifestyle with minimal dependence on exercise.  A typical example could be Saudi society.

 Some alarming statistics quoted in leading publications stated that about 66 percent of Saudi women are overweight. Approximately 52 percent of the adult population in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is obese while among adolescents it is 18 percent. Over 15 percent of pre – schools are also victims of Obesity. These figures reflect the seriousness of the disease especially that obesity can lead to a variety of diseases such as diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, hypertension, cancer and high blood cholesterol.


How is obesity measured?

 1. Body Mass Index (BMI)

 The most widely used measure of obesity has been the Body Mass Index (BMI). It is calculated as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters. For example, if the weight of a person is 70kg and his height is 174cm (1.74m), the BMI of that person would be:  






 Using these BMI measures, national and international health authorities have determined cut-off points to classify normal, overweight, and obese individuals. BMI’s are categorized in the following way:


BMI                                         Status

Under 18.5                             Underweight

18.5 – 24.9                            Normal weight

25.0 – 29.9                            Overweight

30.0 – 39.9                            Obese

40 and over                            Severely Obese

 There are certain limitations to the use of BMI, including:

  • Children (who are still growing)
  • Pregnant women
  • Very muscular individuals, such as athletes

 2. Tape Measure

 Tape measure is a simple way to follow-up on weight control (measuring the circumference of the waist). The fat contained around the waist is more critical than the fat found in the hips or any other part of the body. As the reading on the tape decreases, this reflects a drop in the amount of fat around the waist. The following table provides a good guide: 


High risk

Extremely high risk


More than 94 cm

More than 102 cm


More than 80 cm

More than 88 cm


Benefits of weight reduction

 Weight reduction – even by 5-10 % of overall weight - can be beneficial in many ways such as:

·        Reduction in risk factors of overweight or obesity-related diseases and symptoms.

·        Blood pressure reduction - ideal for patients suffering from hypertension.

·        Reduction of Glucose levels which is good for Diabetics.

·        Reduction of Cholesterol and fat levels, which helps patients suffering from cholesterol disturbances, arterial clots and myocardial infarction.

·        Improving one’s look and morale.

·        Reduction of potential early deaths due to obesity-related diseases.

 Obesity requires treatment

 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity has become a worldwide disease that can lead to a variety of diseases such as diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, hypertension and high blood cholesterol.  There can be little doubt that highly developed countries, such as the United States of America, are in the midst of an obesity epidemic. An epidemic may be defined as a period of increased prevalence of a particular disease in a population. Having said that, the figures revealed so far in a number of studies done on a slice of the Saudi population portray a grim picture too! However, there are ways to prevent and control obesity (to be covered in a later article) and the major benefit of that may be measured not just in terms of years of life gained, but also in a better quality of life. Having said this, people suffering from obesity or overweight are advised to consult a doctor.


 Issued on behalf of Roche by Gulf Hill and Knowlton, Jeddah. For more information, please contact Talal Eid at tel: 673 8888 Ext.221; fax: 676 0597; e-mail:

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15 April 2001 06:55:18 PM

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