HBKU Press’s academic platform, QScience.com, recently published an article highlighting data on the significant increases in BMI trends among Qatari adolescents from 2003 – 2009. The article, which is available free to download from QScience’s Open Access journal, QScience Connect, also calls for the implementation of routine BMI monitoring for Qatari adolescents aged 12–17
QScience.com is home to numerous conference proceedings, conference papers, research articles, eBooks, and literature reviews that provide critical research available for free to the public through its Open Access policy, making it both easy to access and easily cited. Topics on QScience’s database range from the sciences to the humanities, prioritizing issues relevant to Qatar and the MENA region.
“As the costs for journal subscriptions continued to rise in the past 30 years, we’ve adopted the Open Access publishing policy which is a growing a movement in the academic publishing industry these days,” explains Dr. Rima J. Isaifan, the Head of Academic and Journals Publishing at HBKU Press. “Open Access provides significant author and institution visibility, which means growing number of readers, more potential collaborators and more citation for their work.”
In the article, The increasing trend in the body mass index of Qatari adolescents 2003–2009, the focus is on adolescents, an understudied population, as opposed to adults. It presents a specific type of data (BMI) that can be interpreted and utilized by a range of audiences – both institutional and academic. The article exemplifies the type of relevant research, with specific local interest, that HBKU Press is committed to publishing through QScience.com.
“This research is unique in a way that it does not only study a critical health subject related to body mass index, but it also utilizes actual data at the national level for two different periods of time,” continues Dr. Isaifan. “The importance of sharing the trend obtained by each category is of great importance to researchers who would link the current observations with the historical data obtained in the subject.”
The study on BMI was conducted by researchers at Sidra Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, Primary Health Care Corporation, and the Shafallah Medical Genetics Center in Qatar.
“The topic is important to the State of Qatar because there seems to be an increasing trend of obesity among children and adolescents, and there are a lack of numbers to monitor this,” says Dr. Kari Fosse, one of the primary authors of the article. “Obesity can bring a lot of adverse health issues, like diabetes and heart disease, and it is therefore important to put this subject on the national agenda to help prevent these issues.”
The scope of the study involved recording the BMIs of 705 Qatari adolescents, boys and girls, aged 12–17 years in the year 2008/2009 and comparing it with that of previous BMI data published in 2003/2004. Conclusions were made by comparing the BMI of each specific age group from the two time periods.
The final data revealed significant BMI increases among both the boys and girls who participated in the study within each age group. Using the BMI data, researchers calculated the percent increase in obesity among the adolescents, noting an 18.8% increase in obesity among Qatari boys and a 12.1% increase in obesity among the Qatari girls over the five-year period.
The study concluded that there was an overall substantial increase in the average BMI among allage groups in both genders as well as an increased prevalence of obesity among Qatari adolescents. The results also revealed that obesity in Qatari adolescents becomes more prominent with increasing age. Researchers urge that these results be given significant attention.
“Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges worldwide,” says
Dr. Naser Elkum (PhD), Director/Principal Investigator of Research at Sidra Medicine and the corresponding author of the QScience article. “It has been shown that the progression of obesity from childhood to adulthood is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. This public health crisis requires a serious investigation to identify the key factors contributing to the high prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity in Qatar.”
Although a number of factors could have contributed to this health issue in Qatar, the researchers reason that rapid urbanization, economic growth, and the increase in population during the early 2000s are directly linked to the rising BMI trend. The increase of fast food restaurants and other hallmarks of Western society brought on by the economic changes of this time have had a direct influence on Qatari adolescents, leading to an overall change in lifestyle characterized by higher energy intake and less physical activity.
The authors of the article encourage the regular and continuous monitoring of BMI among Qatari adolescents in order to intervene at an early stage. In addition, they mention that this routine data collection would allow policy makers to assess whether their population-based health interventions are successful and see where progress is or isn’t being made.
“Dietary and activity patterns established early in life persist later in life, highlighting the importance of early intervention to develop and maintain health-promoting behaviors and healthy weight throughout life,” concludes Dr. Elkum. “Intervening during childhood will ensure that young children have better access to healthy foods and more opportunities to engage in regular physical activity.”
The article can be found at QScience.com (https://www.qscience.com/content/journals/10.5339/connect.2019.1#) along with thousands of other articles, conference proceedings and books, available online for free.
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