Background: Obesity and its related adverse health effects have become major public health problems in developing countries. It has been increasing more rapidly in low-income and transitional than in industrialized countries. This study aims to provide the first population-based estimates of the prevalence of obesity in Aleppo, Syria, and to examine its association with a number of risk factors in the adult population.
Methods: An interviewer-administered survey of adults 18–65 years of age, residing in Aleppo, Syria was conducted in 2004, involving a representative sample of 2038 participants (54.8% female, mean age 35.3 ± 12.1, age range 18–65 years) with a response rate of 86%. Demographic factors and anthropometric measurements were obtained for all participants. The main outcome was prevalence of obesity which was defined as BMI ⩾ 30 kg/m2.
Results: The prevalence of obesity was 38.2%, higher in women than in men (46.4% and 28.8%, respectively). It increased with age being highest in the 46–65 year-old age group. Obesity was highest among Arabs (40.2%),the unemployed (50.3%), illiterate (50.8%), married (44.5%) especially women with multiparity, low socio-economic status (46.3%), and those with a low physical activity score (40.6%). Obesity was seen among 49% of ex-smokers, 39.7% of non-users of alcohol and 58.3% of participants treated for depression. An association was observed between obesity and an increasing frequency intake of certain food items. Among women, an association was observed between obesity and the number of births.
Conclusion: Our data show that obesity is a major health problem in Aleppo, Syria especially among women. It is related to age, marital status, and consumption of certain food items and it shows a significant prevalence among women with repeated pregnancies.