Practicability of Implementing a Pilot School Based Obesity Prevention Program

Practicability of Implementing a Pilot School Based Obesity Prevention Program

Nahlaa Abdelwahab Khalifa (King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia)
DOI: 10.4018/IJARPHM.2020070103
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Unhealthy diet and lifestyle behaviours are known to increase the risk of obesity and comorbidities. This article piloted the practicability of a school-based prevention program to control weight among schoolgirls. An eight-week comprehensive program was conducted on 66 adolescent females. Food habits and lifestyle survey was completed. Student health, nutrition, and physical activity knowledge was assessed. Physical education was applied. Subjective assessment of food/beverages at the school's canteen occurred and a sample of a healthy canteen was provided. Results showed students' unhealthy patterns in food habits and lifestyle. Significant changes were noticed in their overall positive responses to pre-and post-questions (P-value=001). Nearly 70% of food/beverage items were categorised as less healthy. School-based obesity prevention programs could support students in improving their eating patterns and weight status. The program could be replicated to improve students' lives in other locations. Benefits could include health and education ministries.
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Obesity is a major public health issue and its incidence has reached an epidemic level in both developed and developing countries (Williams, Mesidor, Winters, Dubbert &Wyatt, 2015). In Gulf countries, obesity has arisen as ever- growing challenges leading to disturbing health problems (Al Nohair, 2014; Shaikh, Sharaf, Shehzad, Shoukat, Naeem, Al Harbi, Almutairi, Al Ilaj & Motairi, 2016). Among children and adolescents in the Gulf area, obesity prevalence ranges from 3% to 18% in young females and from 5% to 14% in males (Badran & Laher, 2011). Concern and importance are raised as for the warning increase in weight pick up among youthful Saudi nationals attribute to poor dietary patterns and inactive lifestyles within recent years (Mabry, Koohsari, Bull, & Owen, 2016). With the obvious nutritional alterations and fast urbanization in Saudi Arabia, it was estimated that 10.6% and 26.6% of adolescents aged 13–18 years are obese, or overweight respectively (Must & Anderson, 2003). In Saudi Arabia, it has been found that obesity prevalence between adolescents rise significantly from 1988 to 2005 (Peplow, Adams, & Young, 2015).

Adolescent females in Saudi Arabia adapt unhealthy eating behaviours and habits for different reasons, such as taste and convenience, where they consume fast foods, “at least once a week” (ALFaris, Al-Tamimi, Al-Jobair, & Al-Shwaiyat, 2015). Saudi adolescents consume less milk, skip breakfast, sleep for long periods of time during vacations, and do not exercise regularly (Farghaly, Ghazali, Al-Wabel, Sadek, & Abbag, 2007; Al-Oboudi, 2010).

Sedentary activities such as sitting down to eating or talking to friends at school breaks are prevalent among 41% of Saudi students (Aljaaly, 2016). A previous national study noted that there was an inverse correlation between Physical Activity (PA) and body mass index (BMI) (El-Kholy & Elsayed, 2015). The PA and physical education (PE) at girls’ schools are commonly ruled out of public school schedules, while it is still permissible for one to two hours weekly in self-governing schools. PE at girls’ public schools is included in some courses and not in a separate curriculum course (Al Jaaly, 2012). It is obvious that early health education programs in addition to healthy school environments can enhance student learning and improve outcomes (Berry, 2002) and hence, it is recommended that to achieve those goals, an increase of attention to the humanities and social sciences in the curriculum is needed.

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