This survey aimed to describe the dietetic practices of obesity management in Saudi Arabia and compare this with the best practice criteria and practice in Australia.
Anonymous questionnaires were completed by dietitians in Saudi Arabia. Questionnaires were distributed by mail, email and in a web-based form. The topics included barriers to obesity management, demand and level of service, and strategies and approaches used for weight management. Best practice scores were based on those used to assess Australian dietitians (Collins C, Nutr Diet 2003;60:177-184).
253 dietitians participated in the survey. Of these, 175 (69%) were involved in obesity management. The best practice score for Australian dietitians was slightly but significantly greater than the scores of Saudi dietitians (mean 41.6 vs 38.8; p <0.001). There was also a significant correlation between the best practice score and years of experience (r = 0.26, p <0.001). The most common assessment approaches were of BMI (87%), exercise habits (81%), and weight history (69%) while the most common strategies for obesity management were dietary total fat reduction (92%), increase incidental daily activity (92%), behavior modification techniques (74%), and advice on shopping (64%). The major barrier for establishment of a weight management clinic was the inadequate resources. Approximately two thirds of dietitians reported relying on the use of international dietetic practice guidelines.