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Cairo: Cases of obesity in Saudi Arabia are estimated at 35.4%, making the kingdom the third among the Arab countries after Kuwait and Qatar in such cases, a medical specialist has said.

Diabetes consultant Dr Walid Al Bakr, providing a breakdown of obesity prevalence in the kingdom, said that Ha’il in north-western Saudi Arabia takes the lead among Saudi regions with 33.9% of the overall cases, followed by the Eastern Province with 22.7%, Al Qassim in central Saudi Arabia with 26.5% and Tabuk in the north west with 25.2%, Saudi news portal Sabq reported.

Diseases associated with being overweight include diabetes, heart disorders, high blood pressure, arthritis and cancer, the specialist said at a seminar in Al Khubar in eastern Saudi Arabia this week.

Negative impacts of obesity, he explained, also include lack of movement, joint pains, snoring, backaches and sleep disturbances.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is most common in people who are overweight or obese.

Obesity also affects reproductive capability, he said, urging the adoption of an active daily lifestyle including walking.

Dr Al Bakr blamed school canteens for offering mostly unhealthy food and called for low-calorie alternatives. Another recommendation against obesity is intensifying physical education classes in schools on a daily basis or at least three times per week.

Moreover, he called for introducing education courses to help students identify calories and the body needs of nutrients from each meal.