Physical activity, fitness and fatness among Saudi children and adolescents: implications for cardiovascular health

Saudi Med J. 2002 Feb;23(2):144-50.


During recent years, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has witnessed a tremendous development at an astounding rate. The standard of living rises and mechanization has been apparent in all aspects of people's life. As industrialization and modernization progress, a number of changes in physical activity and eating habits are likely to occur. Indeed, physical inactivity and sedentary living with associated low level of physical fitness are increasingly becoming prevalent in the Saudi society. These lifestyle changes undoubtedly carry unfavorable consequences on health outcomes of the Saudi population. This paper reviews the status of physical activity among Saudi children and adolescents and discusses its implications to cardiovascular health and fitness. From the available evidences, it appears that most Saudi children and adolescents do not meet the minimal weekly requirement of moderate to vigorous physical activity necessary for effectively functioning cardiorespiratory system. Furthermore, active Saudi boys tend to have favorable levels of serum triglycerides and high density lipoproteins-cholesterol compared with inactive boys. Sixteen percent of Saudi schoolboys are considered obese (fat content is above 25% of body mass). Body fat percent of Saudi boys seems to have increased over the past decade. Body fatness correlated significantly with several coronary artery disease risk factors. Based on the available evidences, promotion of physical activity among Saudi children and adolescents appears warranted and national policy encouraging active living is also needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Risk
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol