Pédiatrie et thérapeutique

Pédiatrie et thérapeutique
Libre accès

ISSN: 2161-0665


Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Relative to Body Mass Index among School Children in Saudi Arabia

Adel Abdullah Alhusaini

Background: Increased time spent on sedentary activities and decreased time spent on physical activities has been linked with lower levels of energy expenditure, overweight, obesity, and increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. During the past few years, rapid improvements in living standards, mechanization and urbanization has a profound impact in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia resulting in low levels of physical activity and sedentary living. Therefore the purpose of the research is to provide basic data of subjectively measured physical activity and sedentary behavior of the Saudi school children in relation with BMI.

Methods: This study used cross sectional survey of 357 school children aged 10-16 years (82 boys and 275 girls) recruited from different schools in central Riyadh between 2015 and 2016. Demographic information such as age, gender, weight, height was obtained from each participant. Sedentary behavior was recorded as time spent on activities such as TV viewing, playing video games, computer use and homework, and physical activity was assessed using Physical Activity Questionnaire for Children (PAQ-C), and Godin leisure- time exercise questionnaire.

Results: Majority of participants were girls (77%). Values of body fat expressed as percentiles of body mass index of appropriate age and height were used as criteria to stratify the sample. The sample proportion stratified based on percentile of body weight constituted of 5.3% of underweight (19), 54.6% of normal (195), 18.8% of overweight (67) and 23% of obese (76) children. A high proportion (68.3%) of Saudi school children spent more than 2 hours on screen time (TV+PC) daily. PAQ-C reported 26.3% are less active, 51.5% are moderately active and 22.1% are highly active. Using ANOVA, no significant variation was shown in PAQ-C scores in relation to BMI. PA findings by Godin leisure-time exercise questionnaire concluded that 70.3% are insufficiently active, 20.4% are moderately active and 9.2% are active. Analysis done by Kruskal-Wallis test showed significant difference observed in Godin moderate scores (P=0.01) and total scores (P=0.03) but not in other subcategories (strenuous, mild, Sweat) in relation to BMI.

Conclusion: Sedentary behaviors, physical inactivity and increased BMI among Saudi school children are the major public health concerns. There is an urgent need for national policy promoting active living and healthy eating and reducing sedentary behaviors among children in Saudi Arabia.