The prevalence of overweight and obesity in Saudi Arabia is 72.5% (Al-Nozha et al. Saudi Med J. 2005;26:824-29) yet there are no national guidelines to guide dietitians in obesity management. This workshop was planned to seek agreement from key stakeholders on the questions that need to be addressed when developing evidence-based guidelines for nutritional management of obesity in Saudi Arabia.
46 health professionals participated in an invited workshop held in Riyadh in June 2007. Participants discussed priority areas to include in a critical literature review, best formats for presentation of guidelines, local issues to consider, and methods to encourage the dissemination and use of guidelines.
Participants agreed that Saudi dietetic practice guidelines are lacking but necessary to guide effective management of obesity. They also agreed about 27 key questions to be addressed in the guidelines. Some local issues identified were: difficulties promoting physical activity because of weather and modesty issues for women; very high fat diets common in Saudi social situations; and Ramadan commonly being a time of weight gain. There was no general agreement about the best formats of the guidelines and this may be due to the limited familiarity and use of guidelines.