King Saud University (KSU) has taken the lead in the Kingdom in treating obesity, which kills around 20,000 people every year.
KSU’s obesity chair, which treated about 900 cases in one year, has a world-class team of experts and used the revolutionary laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG) surgical procedure to help people with the condition.
Dr. Aayed Al-Qahtani, senior obesity consultant at KSU, said yesterday: “KSU’s obesity chair has become a bastion in the battle against obesity in the Kingdom, the region and beyond, but the last 18 months has been a banner period for the clinic.”
Obesity kills a large number of people including men, women and children in Saudi Arabia, where nearly 70 percent of the population are overweight.
Although Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, spends in excess of SR 19 billion a year on the treatment of diseases related to obesity, more than 3 million children in the Kingdom still suffer from the condition.
Al-Qahtani added: “The latest statistics show that nearly 70 percent of the Kingdom’s population are suffering from obesity, which shortens life expectancy by an average 20 years.”
He said the chair’s clinic now had a world-class team of behavioral therapists, sports specialists and therapeutic nutritionists who are contributing to the Kingdom’s drive against obesity.
It is the region’s first multidiscipline clinic devoted to the treatment of all medical complications related to obesity.
Al-Qahtani, who was named surgeon of the year by the University of Graz (Austria), called for wider cooperation from all sections of society to fight obesity among children, something that could potentially lead to heart and blood diseases.
He said KSU clinic’s treatment process begins with a health education group in which the patient and family undergo collective therapy, since studies reveal obesity problem begins at home with poor daily habits and nutritional values.
Al-Qahtani added: “Much appreciation has been given to the KSU obesity clinic’s LSG surgery, a procedure involving the re-sectioning of the stomach sleeves that dramatically reduces the stomach’s capacity.”
In comparison to other excessive weight loss surgeries such as gastric bypass and gastric banding, LSG employs no foreign body items, the risk of ulcers is low and the absorption levels of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and drugs are not altered, he added.
The nature of LSG surgery depends on the amount of excess weight a patient needs to lose and the patient’s age and state of health.
Al-Qahtani said: “I have seen children crippled by their obesity and are in wheelchairs unable to go to school, even having multiple cardiac arrests due to their sleep apnea and other obesity-related morbidities.
“I feel (LSG) gives new hope to obese children without serious complications.”
A KSU report made available to Arab News yesterday said: “Obesity is a substantial public health crisis in the Kingdom and in the rest of the industrialized world.
“The prevalence is increasing rapidly in the Gulf states as well as in numerous industrialized nations worldwide.
“This growing rate represents a pandemic that needs urgent attention if obesity’s potential toll on morbidity, mortality and economics is to be avoided.”
The report said it is difficult for anybody who is not obese to comprehend the ordeals and severe challenges those who are obese face.
“Many patients have spoken gratefully about the positive impact the KSU clinic has had on their lives by providing them with freedom of movement, a pleasing new look and a sense of high self-esteem.”

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