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Abstract

Background & Objectives The state of Qatar has witnessed significant lifestyle changes due to rapid urbanization, the introduction of labour-saving devices and the availability of high-caloric density food. This has impacted on the daily lifestyle and health habits of young adults leading to significant increases in non-communicable diseases (WHO, 2014). This study explored the risk factors associated with such diseases amongst young adults in Qatar. Methods A representative sample of 732 males and females (aged 18-25 years) from Qatar University took part in this cross-sectional, mixed-method design study. Physical Activity (PA) and dietary habits were assessed using a validated questionnaire. Total energy expenditure per week was calculated based on the metabolic equivalent values of each activity reported by the participant (Al-Nakeeb et al., 2012). Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated according to the International Obesity Task Force criteria and using the age and gender-specific BMI classification established by Cole et al. (2000). Results The percentage of overweight/obesity in males and females was 39.5% and 38.5% respectively. It was evident that there was a significant increase in the percentage of students classified as overweight/obese from year 1 to year 4. Meanwhile, there was a decline in the level of PA and an increase in sedentary time during that period. Whilst health was reported to be the main reason for participation in PA/sport, lack of available time was singled out as the main barrier to engagement in an active lifestyle. Ironically, students reported more than 4 hours of TV/DVD viewing and internet use per day. Conclusions The adoption of healthier lifestyles amongst the Qatari population, including an increase in PA and a reduction in overweight/obesity are major objectives cited in Qatar Vision (2030). This study has revealed a high prevalence of overweight/obesity amongst male and female university students with regressive trends in their lifestyle and health habits. The findings reveal a worrying picture of young people's lifestyle that ought to be a cause for concern for policy makers and health professionals. Undoubtedly, there is an urgent need to seriously consider putting in place intervention strategies concerning behaviour modification and the built environment in order to reverse these trends. Such strategies could have major implications on the health and well-being of young people at this critical age developmentally and on the future welfare of the wider community in the long run. References *WHO (2014) World Health Statistics - 2014. WHO Press: Switzerland. *Al-Nakeeb, Y., Lyons, M., Collins, P., Al-Nuaim, A., Al-Hazzaa, H., Duncan, M. and Nevill, A. (2012) Obesity, physical activity and sedentary behavior amongst British and Saudi youth: A cross-cultural study. Intl J Environ Res Public Health, 9, 1409-1506. *Cole T.J. et al. (2000) Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: International survey. Br. Med. J., 320 (7244): 1240-1243. *General Secretariat for Development Planning - Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016, Towards Qatar National Vision 2030. Qatar: Gulf Publishing and Printing Company, Doha.

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/content/papers/10.5339/qfarc.2014.HBPP0522
2014-11-18
2020-01-26
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