Background: Childhood weight problems require early preventive measures. Many studies have done in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) covering several cities, but it is difficult to follow up on the current situation because access to reliable national data is not always possible.
Objective: To estimate the prevalence and risk factors of overweight, obesity and underweight among children aged below 2 years old in Abha city, KSA.
Materials and methods: A cross-sectional study of children aged 0-24 months, attending the primary health care (PHC) centers. A previously validated questionnaire was used. It consisted of personal characteristics, prenatal history of (smoking, gestational diabetes and obesity), details of feeding practice and other risk factors for obesity (weaning food, TV watching, duration of sleep and who caring of the child).
Results: Among the 373 children, 75.1% had normal weight whereas 14.5% were underweight. Overweight and obesity were reported among 8% and 2.4% of them, respectively. Among various studied risk factors (maternal nationality, educational level, birth weight, taking soft drinks before age of 6 months, not providing food at definite time, providing food several times in large amount during the day, sleeping for continuous long period, watching TV or playing video games more than 1 h/day and maternal overweight during pregnancy) were statistically significant, modifiable and can be the target of interventions.
Conclusion: Weight status problems among children aged below 2 years of mothers attending PHC centers within Abha city is not uncommon. Underweight is more prevalent than overweight and obesity.