Perceived barriers to healthy eating and physical activity among adolescents in seven Arab countries: a cross-cultural study



Musaiger AO, Al-Mannai M, Tayyem R, Al-Lalla O, Ali EY, Kalam F, Benhamed MM, Saghir S, Halahleh I, Djoudi Z, Chirane M.


ScientificWorldJournal. 2013 Nov 14;2013:232164. doi: 10.1155/2013/232164. 2013.


OBJECTIVE: To highlight the perceived personal, social, and environmental barriers to healthy eating and physical activity among Arab adolescents. METHOD: A multistage stratified sampling method was used to select 4698 students aged 15-18 years (2240 males and 2458 females) from public schools. Seven Arab counties were included in the study, namely, Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. Self-reported questionnaire was used to list the barriers to healthy eating and physical activity facing these adolescents. RESULTS: It was found that lack of information on healthy eating, lack of motivation to eat a healthy diet, and not having time to prepare or eat healthy food were the main barriers to healthy eating among both genders. For physical activity, the main barriers selected were lack of motivation to do physical activity, less support from teachers, and lack of time to do physical activity. In general, females faced more barriers to physical activity than males in all countries included. There were significant differences between males and females within each country and among countries for most barriers. CONCLUSION: Intervention programmes to combat obesity and other chronic noncommunicable diseases in the Arab world should include solutions to overcome the barriers to weight maintenance, particularly the sociocultural barriers to practising physical activity.

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Link/DOI: 10.1155/2013/232164