The Qatar Dietary Guidelines (QDGs) were developed as part of the national strategy to prevent chronic diseases. This study aims at characterizing gaps between the QDGs and usual dietary and lifestyle patterns in Qatar, identifying demographic and socioeconomic determinants of adherence to the QDGs and investigating the association between adherence and cardiometabolic risk.
This study is based on the Qatar National STEPwise cross-sectional survey which was conducted on a nationally representative sample of Qatari adults, aged 18 to 64 years (n = 1109). Data collection included socio-demographic characteristics, lifestyle factors, anthropometric (weight, height and waist circumference (WC)), and blood pressure measurements. The dietary intake of participants was evaluated using a non-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Biochemical assessment was performed to measure the fasting levels of blood sugar, triglycerides (TG) and HDL cholesterol. The metabolic syndrome (MetS) was defined as the presence of three or more cardiometabolic risk factors. To examine adherence to the guidelines, each specifc recommendation was matched to corresponding data drawn from the survey. To investigate the association of sociodemographic, lifestyle and cardiometabolic characteristics with adherence to the QDGs, an adherence score was calculated.
More than 83% of adults did not meet the recommendations for vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and high fibre intakes, 70% were overweight or obese, 50–72% reported frequent consumption of sweetened beverages and sweets, and 47% reported frequent consumption of fast foods. Younger adults, the unemployed, the least educated and those not married had lower adherence to the QDGs. Adherence was inversely associated with elevated WC (OR: 0.88, 95% CI:0.82–0.95) and the MetS (OR:0.84,95% CI:0.74–0.96).
Building on the identified gaps and vulnerable population groups, the study findings should provide a road map for the prioritization of interventions and the development of culture- specific programs aiming at promoting adherence to dietary guidelines in Qatar, while serving as a model to other countries in the region.