Objective: To describe the dietetic practices of the treatment of obesity in Saudi Arabia and compare this with best practice criteria and the practice in Australia.
Methods: Anonymous questionnaires were completed by dietitians in Saudi Arabia. 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.
Results: 253 dietitians participated in the survey. Of these, 175 (69 %) were involved in the management of obesity. 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), (median 43 vs 39). 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 assessment of BMI (87%) and exercise habits (81%) while the most common strategies for obesity management were; dietary total fat reduction (92%) and increase incidental daily activity (92%). The major barrier for establishment of a weight management clinic reported by 49% of participants was inadequate resources.
Conclusion: Saudi Arabian dietetic practice for the management of obesity does incorporate most best practice recommendations, but some specific elements are rarely used.