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| Effects of Meat Consumption on Obesity in Saudi Arabia Essay

a) Research Topic

Obesity is a prevalent problem in Saudi Arabia. According to the statistics released by the World Health Organization, one in every three Saudi citizens is obese. About 29% of all Saudi males and 37 percent of Saudi females are obese (World Health Organization, 2009). Studies conducted between 2005 and 2008 by health institutions in Saudi Arabia revealed that one in every ten children and teenagers were obese (Moreno, 2011). Health experts warn that the number of obese related deaths is matching the number of deaths that result from smoking. This is because obesity causes diseases such as cancer, gout, diabetes, coronary heart diseases and high blood pressure. The main factor that has contributed to the high rates of obesity among the Saudi Arabian citizens is their unhealthy lifestyles. In addition, the number of fast foods in Saudi Arabia has been increasing, thus encouraging Saudi Arabians to eat junk food. Most Saudi Arabians do not engage in exercise activities and it makes them become obese. Researchers have not adequately covered how overconsumption of meat in Saudi Arabia contributes to obesity. This study seeks to investigate whether overconsumption of meat in Saudi Arabia has caused high obesity rates in this country to increase.

b) Research Statement

Understanding the factors that cause the increase in obesity in Saudi Arabia is a key factor in reducing the increase in obesity rates in this country. Most people in Saudi Arabia thought that obesity was genetically transmitted and thus it could not be prevented (Hochberg, Mead, Levine and Klag, 1995). Such people do not know that the type of food that they eat contribute to obesity. The national dish in this country is Kabsa containing the meat of sheep. In addition, Saudi Arabia is the biggest importer of chicken. The main aim of this study is to find if there is a direct correlation between meat consumption and increase in obesity rates in Saudi Arabia.

c) Justification

The obesity rates in Saudi Arabia would decrease if all the citizens knew that consumption of meat increases the chances of a person becoming obese (Sakamaki, Toyama, Amamoto and Shinfuku, 2005). Diseases that are related to obesity would therefore be reduced in this country. Cases of diabetes or heart failure would decrease because people will be consuming vegetables and fruits instead of eating goat or sheep meat.

Research Objectives

To examine whether consumption of meat in Saudi Arabia exposes the citizens in this country to the risk of being obese.
To provide the decision-makers in this country with relevant information about effects of meat consumption to the risk of obesity so that they can formulate policies regarding meat consumption in this country.
To provide non-governmental and governmental agencies in Saudi Arabia with recommendations that would help to reduce the rate of obesity in this county



The participants in this study will be both male and female citizens living in Saudi Arabia. The inclusion criteria for these participants will be that they should love to eat meat. Vegetarians will not be included in this study. Moreover, the participants have to be 18 years old because it is difficult to obtain consent from parents on the participation of underage children in the project. Mails will be sent to all the participants requesting them to participate in the study. All the participants who will accept invitation will be contacted to confirm their consent.

Sampling Frame

The sampling frame will include both male and female Saudi Arabian citizens aged between 18 and 60 years. This is because most obese people in Saudi Arabia are 18-60 years old. The participants will be recruited using multistage sampling procedure and they will be from Ar-Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah and Al-Madinah. Selections of participants for the study will be made trough systematic sampling method. The sample size for this research is 400 participants. A large sample size will help to reduce sampling errors, thus ensuring that the data collected from this study is unbiased and reliable (Ostrom & Wilhemsen, 2012).

Actual Methods

The research design adopted by this study is a quantitative study. The independent variable in this study is consumption of meat in Saudi Arabia while the dependent variable is obesity in Saudi Arabia. Quantitative study was chosen due to several reasons. One of the major reasons is that it avoids personal bias. The researchers are not allowed to make judgment or conclusions concerning any data collected, therefore avoiding any form of bias (Ostrom & Wilhelmsen, 2012). In addition, the data collected through quantitative study is more objective and accurate compared to the data collected through qualitative means. Procedures involved while collecting data through qualitative means are prescribed to ensure that their validity and reliability are maintained. Researchers also prefer quantitative study because it is easier to replicate such research and analyze it with similar research done by other researchers. It is also the most appropriate type of study when the number of participants is large, since it allows for easy generalization of results.

This research also adopted a cross-sectional study. In this form of study, the researcher concentrates on different groups of people differing in a particular variable of interest but sharing a common characteristic. In the study of whether eating meat causes obesity in Saudi Arabia, the common characteristics will be provided by Saudi Arabian citizens. Differing variables include age and gender of the participants. The major characteristics of cross-sectional study include that it takes place at a single point of time. In addition to this, the variables in a cross-sectional study are not manipulated in order to achieve the desired results (Carr, 2008).

The method used for collecting data from the study is open-ended questionnaires. The questionnaires will be delivered to the participants by trained personnel. Questionnaires are effective in data collection because responses are gathered in one standardized way (Andersen, 2011). It helps in ensuring that objectivity and certainty is achieved on the data collected. In addition, collection of data using questionnaires is quicker, thus it is cost saving. Moreover, the sample size is large and the participants are distributed in four cities of Saudi Arabia making it cheaper to administer questionnaires to them. However, there is a risk that some of the participants will not return the questionnaires. Furthermore, some of them may give dishonest responses.

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One of the questions that will be in the questionnaires is the number of times that each participant eats meat per week. Other questions include the last time when a participant ate meat and which type of meat he/she usually eats. The participants will also be required to state whether they have heard about obesity and what factors they thought contributed to the spread of obesity in Saudi Arabia. The number of questions in each questionnaire is 20. The first questions in the questionnaire will be easier to answer in order to encourage each participant to finish the questionnaire. At first, the questionnaires will be prepared in English and then translated into Arabic language because most Saudi Arabian citizens speak Arabic dialect. The questionnaires will be pretested prior to actual data collection. One of the questionnaires will be presented to an official in a healthcare facility in Saudi Arabia to establish whether the questions are relevant and reliable in collecting data concerning relationship between eating meat and obesity. After this, some of the questionnaires will be administered to 15 members of the sample group from Jeddah. The time that each respondent takes to fill the questionnaire will be noted. In addition, the respondents will be asked to indicate the questions that were unclear or hard to answer. The questionnaires will be revised considering the information collected from the pretest. Pretesting questionnaires are important due to many reasons. It helps researchers to gauge the responses that they may receive from the participants (Theodore, Yusuf & Martin, 2009). In addition, it helps the researchers to know some of the inappropriate questions to be changed or eliminated from a questionnaire.

Several measures were taken to ensure that the data collected from the questionnaires was accurate and reliable. All the data collecting and recording agents underwent extensive training. It helped to ensure that they recorded the data that was in the questionnaires. In addition, four independent people reviewed all the questions contained in the questionnaires. It helped in ensuring that the questionnaires collected accurate data for completeness and relevance of the study on whether meat consumption causes the increase in the obesity rates among the citizens in Saudi Arabia (Edwards et al, 2009). The number of participants who will return filled questionnaires will be recorded. This data will be useful when calculating the response rate of the questionnaires. In addition, data from questionnaires that were not filled appropriately will not be considered during analysis of the data collected from this study. It will help in ensuring that analysis of the results of the study is correct. In order to encourage high response rate among the participants, one of the participants will win an iPad.

d) Ethics

This research has put many ethical issues into considerations. Ethical authorization for the research will be obtained from the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia. Consent will be first obtained from all the participants before the study is carried out. Consent will be obtained through phone communication. The researchers will inform the participants about the information that this study seeks to obtain and ask them whether they are willing to participate in the study. In addition, all the participants will be assured of the confidentiality of all the data provided. In order to ensure that the confidentiality of the participants is maintained, the data from each participant will be assigned a random code identifying it (Rogelberg, 2002). In addition, the data will be stored in computers and will be protected using passwords. Only an authorized official managing this data will have the password. Each participant also has the free will to withdraw from the study in case he/she is not willing to give his personal data. This will help in ensuring that the participants are not coerced to participate in the study. The researchers will also not manipulate the collected data and they will use original data, provided by the participants when making conclusions about this study.

Stakeholder and Community Involvement

Stakeholders that are involved in this study include Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia, health committees in Ar-Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah and Al-Madinah and governmental and non-governmental organizations that are concerned with the rising cases of obesity in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the community around the areas where the study will be conducted will be involved. One of the researchers collecting data in each area will be recruited from the local communities in these cities. In addition, some of the research participants will be citizens living in the rural communities of the area under study (Morrow, Boaz, Brearly and Ross, 2012). Elders of the communities under study will be asked to give their authority before members in their areas fill questionnaires. Youth groups in the areas under study will also be involved in this research. They will be asked to follow up questionnaires that are not returned by the participants of this study. Local hospitals in the area under study will be asked to provide information on prevalence of obesity in the area under study. In addition, businesses selling meat in the area under study will be asked to provide information on how frequent people purchase meat.

Importance of the Research

The findings from this study are important since they will help to inform people in Saudi Arabia how the consumption of meat increases the chances of becoming obese. It will make citizens in this country change their eating habits, making them eat more fruits and vegetables instead of meat. Due to this, diseases associated with obesity in this country will be reduced. This will help in reducing the number of deaths that are caused by diabetes (type 2) in this country. According to health experts, obese people are more likely to be diabetic compared to non-obese people. These experts argue that the only way that people can reduce the possibility of getting diabetes 2 is to lose weight, eat a balanced diet, exercise more and get enough sleep (World Health Organization, 2009). Considering the above facts, if obesity rates are reduced in Saudi Arabia diabetes rates in this country will be reduced as well.

Health experts have also warned that the increase of heart diseases in this country could be linked to the increase in obesity rates. Meat contains high cholesterol levels. Since people in Saudi Arabia like consuming meat, it increases their chances of developing coronary diseases since meat is high in cholesterol contents (Brewis, 2010). This research will also give recommendations to governmental and non-governmental organizations in Saudi Arabia on how they can encourage the citizens to reduce their meat consumption so that the obesity rates in this country can reduce. In addition, it will give policy makers insights on the policies that they can implement to reduce unhealthy eating habits among the Saudi Arabian citizens. This research also provides the additional scientific knowledge since it will show that obesity is caused not only by genetic factors and lack of exercise, but also by meat consumption.

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