Background: Kuwait is amongst countries in the Gulf region with high income economy. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in five adults in the Gulf region is obese. This study sought to evaluate the prevalence and magnitude of association between overweight, obesity, central obesity, and socio-demographic factors in Kuwait.
Methods: A population-based cross-sectional survey of diabetes and obesity in Kuwait – part of the Kuwait Diabetes Epidemiology Program – was conducted between 2011 and 2014, targeting adults aged 18–82 years using the WHO STEPwise approach to non-communicable disease surveillance. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated to classify overweight and obesity, and waist circumference (WC) used to express central obesity. Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate relationships between socio-demographic factors, overweight (25.0–29.9 kg/m2), obesity (≥30.0 kg/m2) or central obesity (WC ≥ 80 cm women; WC ≥ 94 cm men).
Results: Records for gender (56% Men), age, BMI, governorate, and nationality existed for 4901 individuals. Mean age and BMI were 43 years and 30 kg/m2, respectively. Non-Kuwaiti nationals were more prevalent than Kuwaitis (76% vs 24%). Prevalence rates for overweight, obesity and central obesity were 40.6% (95%CI: 38.4–42.8%), 42.1% (95%CI: 40.0–44.3%) and 73.7% (95%CI: 71.7–75.6%), respectively. The youngest age group (18–29 years) had rates of 38.2% (95%CI: 29.2–47.7%), 27.2% (95%CI: 19.0–36.7%) and 49.9% (95%CI: 40.6–59.1%) for overweight, obesity and central obesity, respectively. In covariate-adjusted analyses, the odds of being overweight was 26% greater for men than for women. Conversely, women had a 54% (95%CI: 19–99%) and 7-fold (95%CI, 5–10-fold) greater odds of obesity/central obesity, respectively, than men. Greater educational attainment, physical activity, and non-Kuwaiti status were associated with lower odds of obesity/central obesity. History of smoking, elevated blood pressure, higher income, being married, greater age and female sex related to greater odds of obesity/central obesity.
Conclusion: Overweight was greater in men, obesity greater in women. Overweight and obesity prevalence were high in young adults aged 18–29 years, a significant public health concern. Efforts to integrate mandatory physical education to the school curriculum and promoting the creation of recreation spaces/parks to promote physical activities, will play a vital role in the early prevention of overweight/obesity in Kuwait.