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International Scientific Indexing (ISI) Indexed Journal Applied Medical Research ISSN: 2149 - 2018
Applied Medical Research. 2022; 9(1):(129-159)

A Survey of Healthcare Professionals’ Treatment of Patients with Eating Disorders and Obesity in Saudi Arabia, and the Availability of Specialised Resources

Amnah Alsabbah

Over the last few decades, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has experienced rapid socio-cultural changes caused by the accelerating economy of the Arabian Gulf region. This was associated with major changes in food choices and eating habits, which became progressively more “Westernized”. Such a “nutritional transition” has been claimed to be responsible for the rising rates of overweight and obesity recently observed among the Saudi population. The prevalence of obesity among adults in Saudi Arabia is 24.7% in 2020. However, the roles of psychology in obesity management and the assessment of metabolic surgery are not clear. This study aims to identify the number of referrals for Eating Disorders (ED) and obesity, the management and level of availability of ED specialists as reported by healthcare staff, and the use of mental health services in treating EDs and obesity. A total of 15 health services in SA were surveyed and 123 questionnaires completed by health professionals. Participants were asked to respond to a written survey that included questions regarding the number of referrals for EDs and obesity and the available treatment, as well as body mass index criteria for metabolic surgery and the number of patients referred for these procedures. Findings revealed that all EDs are equally prevalent in diverse cultures. Although the result showed that the obesity rate is high, there is limited psychological intervention. There is a requirement for specialised ED training, a need to identify a conceptual framework to provide evidence-based management and increase the levels of involvement of psychiatric professionals in the management of obesity.