New poll sheds light on obesity in Saudi Arabia | World Obesity Federation

New poll sheds light on obesity in Saudi Arabia

NewsNew poll sheds light on obesity in Saudi Arabia

New survey reveals the need for greater awareness of social impact with 85% describing the disease as a problem

On the occasion of World Obesity Day, the World Obesity Federation has drawn attention to its latest survey covering the disease in Saudi Arabia, along with its physical and psychological consequences.

The survey reveals that nearly 1 in 2 (46%) Saudis consider themselves to be overweight and 62% say they have a friend or family member who is overweight. Of those who consider themselves to be overweight, two thirds say their weight makes them feel depressed, almost four in five are embarrassed about it and 88% worry that their weight will impact on their lives.

The new poll highlights the broader health impact, including mental health, that rising obesity levels can cause. This has led the World Obesity Federation to launch a new website for patients, enabling them to support each other and share advice and experiences. It also provides information about evidence-based treatment options and highlights local, national and international support groups.

Johanna Ralston, CEO of World Obesity Federation, said: “Obesity is complex.  Diet and exercise are often considered the sole causes of obesity but our genes, living environment and cultural traditions are all contributing factors.  Many people living with obesity have a misplaced sense of shame that can make it harder to seek support and advice. The Global Patient Network is an opportunity for people to share their own experiences and support other people living with obesity to manage weight loss and live a healthy, active lifestyle.”

The World Obesity Federation’s Global Obesity Observatory has previously highlighted rising obesity levels in the Kingdom. It shows that 48% of people (adults and children) are overweight or living with obesity. One in four boys (24%, aged 15-18) were found to be living with obesity and a similar number were overweight – indicating that the issue will continue for at least another generation.  Obesity was found to be less prevalent among girls (11%), but this rises sharply when girls enter adulthood, with one in three women (34%) living with obesity.   

Dr Nasreen Alfaris, Endocrinologist and Obesity Medicine specialist in Saudi Arabia, the co-chair of the World Obesity Gulf & Lebanon Network Steering Committee and chair of the integrated health section of the International Federation for Surgery for Obesity (IFSO), said:  

“Obesity is one of the key health challenges facing Saudi Arabia.  It is important that people living with obesity understand the multiple causes of obesity so they can make informed choices about how to manage and their obesity and live a healthy, active lifestyle.”

The new survey indicates a growing concern among the Saudi population about obesity in the country. More than four in five (82%) believe obesity is a negative contributor towards an individual’s overall health and wellbeing. This figure rises among Saudis who consider themselves to be overweight: 80% say their weight makes them feel anxious and self-conscious about their weight.

These concerns increase when thinking about family and friends who are overweight, with over 90% worried about the health of loved ones and almost 80% concerned about how obesity will impact their social standing.



About the World Obesity Federation

The World Obesity Federation is an international, umbrella organisation for national obesity organisations in over 50 countries worldwide. A not-for-profit body, World Obesity represents scientists, medical and health professionals working in the field of obesity poll, clinical management and education.

Founded in 1986, World Obesity's mission is to improve global health by promoting better understanding of obesity and weight-related diseases through scientific survey, dialogue and education whilst encouraging the development of effective policies to reduce, prevent and treat obesity.

Notes to the editor about World Obesity Day

World Obesity Day is changing in 2020. It will be held from next year on 4 March to ensure consistency and coordination of all members, partners and stakeholders around the world.

For more information please contact

Abdul Karim Email:  or Guy Taylor: Tel: +971 50 645 2580 Email: