Increasing obesity rates in school children in United Arab Emirates

A. AlBlooshi, S. Shaban, M. AlTunaiji, N. Fares, L. AlShehhi, H. AlShehhi, A. AlMazrouei, A. K. Souid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The remarkable socioeconomic changes in United Arab Emirates (UAE) necessitate regular monitoring of obesity in our population. This study explored the epidemiology of obesity in a large cohort of UAE students. Methods: This population-based study investigated the prevalence of obesity in 44,942 students attending governmental schools in Ras Al-Khaimah. Body-mass-index (BMI) was calculated in 15,532 children (4–12 y) in 2013–2014, and in 29,410 children (3–18 y) in 2014–2015. The International Obesity Task Force, World Health Organization, and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reference methods were used to identify overweight, obesity, and extremely-obesity. Results: Using CDC interpretation of BMI, from 11 to 14 y, the prevalence of BMI ≥85th percentile was 41.2%, BMI ≥95th percentile 24.3% and BMI ≥99th percentile 5.7%. Obesity increased linearly from 3 to 12 y (R2 ≥ 0.979); each year an additional 2.36% of the students became obese and 0.28% became extremely obese. The rate of extreme-obesity was 9.6-fold higher in boys than girls (0.58% vs. 0.06%). From 15 to 18 y, 10.3% of boys were extremely obese and 3.0% of girls were extremely obese. Conclusions: These results confirm a steady rise in obesity in children 3–18 y. The rising rate of extreme obesity is also alarming, especially among boys.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-202
Number of pages7
JournalObesity Science and Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Adolescents
  • extreme obesity
  • obesity
  • overweight
  • school children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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