Obesity has been recognized as a major public health problem worldwide that requires preventive action. Prevention is best targeted at children, but relatively few research studies have focused on obesity prevention and most of those were conducted in western countries. Qatar has undergone rapid industrialization and childhood obesity is emerging as a health problem. However, there is little information on the determinants and its prevention. The aims of this study was to describe the prevalence of obesity among 6-7 years old school children, investigate contributing factors and identify potential components for an intervention program to prevent obesity amongst children.


The study consisted of two parts: 1) cross-sectional survey of children in grade 1 from 12 primary schools randomly selected from the state of Qatar and 2) focus groups with a range of stakeholders. Topic guides were used to explore concepts on overweight and obesity, the causes of childhood obesity, and perceptions on potential prevention interventions.


There was a relatively high prevalence of overweight and obesity. There were no significant differences between obese and non-obese children in relation to physical activity or sedentary activity levels or dietary patterns, except for higher reported consumption of sweetened beverages by the obese children compared to non-obese children. Participants were aware of the complexity and variety of causes of obesity and identified two important causal influences resulting from rapid societal change and affluence since oil production in the country. In term of interventions, the school setting was usually prioritized and the influence of teachers in intervention delivery emphasized: “”. The importance of education for parents, particularly the mothers was also a consistent theme.


This is the first study in the state of Qatar that has examined the risk factors for childhood obesity and used qualitative methodology to inform future obesity prevention intervention development. The focus group data provided important contextual information, validated some findings from the cross sectional study and informs the development of future obesity prevention interventions appropriate to the local setting.


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  1. A.E. Al-Muraikhi, Developing a childhood obesity prevention program for children in the State of Qatar, QFARF Proceedings, 2010, BMP26.
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