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Influence of individual and family factors on physical activity among Saudi girls: a cross-sectional study

Manal Alharbi

From the Department of Maternity and Child Health Nursing, College of Nursing, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 

How to cite this article:

Alharbi M. Influence of individual and family factors on physical activity among Saudi girls: a cross-sectional study. Ann Saudi Med 2019; 39(1): 13-21.


BACKGROUND: Physical inactivity is a major public health problem and one of the main causes of noncommunicable diseases among children. The physical activity (PA) of children has been studied extensively in other countries, but not in Saudi Arabia, most especially among school-based girls.


OBJECTIVES: Assess the PA among older Saudi girls (10–15 years old) and determine the influence of various personal and family factors on PA. 


DESIGN: Descriptive, cross-sectional study.


SETTING: Primary and middle schools in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Using a multi-stage stratified sampling technique, school girls were surveyed using the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Older Children (PAQ-C). Personal and familial factors that influenced PA levels were assessed by multiple regression analysis.


MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: PA levels of Saudi school girls.


SAMPLE SIZE: 464 girls.


RESULTS: The mean (SD) score of the respondents in the PAQ-C was 2.63 (0.57, range=1.27-4.24). The majority of the older children reported a moderate level of PA in the last seven days (73.5%), whereas 22.4% and 4.1% of them reported low and high levels of PA, respectively. Employment status of the parents and monthly family income were significant factors that influenced the PA of children.


CONCLUSIONS: The findings reiterate the significance of improving the PA of school girls and the critical role of the family in improving children’s PA. Multisectoral coordination between schools, health agencies, families, and other concerned agencies to plan and implement interventions should help increase the PA of school girls.


LIMITATIONS: The use of self-report may have introduced some levels of social desirability bias. The study was only conducted in a single city.





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