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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 121-127

The association between physical activity, overweight and obesity among Syrian University students

Department of Nutrition and food Science, Faculty of Health sciences, University of Kalamoon, Damascus, Syria

Correspondence Address:
Louay Labban
University of Kalamoon 30440, Damascus
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1319-6308.142366

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Obesity and being overweight are considered as global health problems because obesity increases the risk of several chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes. Physical activity plays an important role in preventing overweight and obesity in young people and stemming its progression into young adulthood. Adolescence is a particularly vulnerable time for the development of obesity because it is marked by a slowing of growth and corresponding decrease in physical activity levels. In addition, physically active youth have lower levels of adiposity than youth who are less active. Several studies have identified the role of physical activity in attaining a healthy body weight. A study carried out at the University of Kalamoon, revealed that the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Syria is almost 47%. The objective of this study was to find out the association between physical activity, overweight and obesity in Syrian university students. An accurate assessment of physical activity is important in determining the risk of overweight and obesity. The absence of local and national relevant data in the Arab world could pose challenges to epidemiological studies on physical activity in these countries. Data from the International Physical Activity Questionnaires (IPAQ) short format on 320 Syrian university students (age 18-26) were analyzed. The prevalence of overweight/obesity had a strong inverse association with physical activity among males and females alike but was more visible in females. The low intensity and short duration of the physical activity has also played a role in shigher body mass index (BMI) values. More metabolic equivalent of tasks (METs) minutes/week resulted in lower BMI values and on the contrary, sitting time had a positive relationship with higher BMI values. There was a significant difference (P < 0.05) between males and females with regard to METs minutes/week which was 4854 ± 1272 and 4408 ± 1136 for males and females respectively in the normal weight group and for 4368 ± 984 and 4041 ± 985 for males and females, respectively in overweight group and 3385 ± 982 and 3063 ± 801 for males and females, respectively in obesity group. This trend also applies to sitting METs minutes/week. In the normal weight group, males had higher values than females whereas females had higher values in the overweight and obesity group but thedifference was significant (P < 0.05) between males and females in the three groups. These results underscore the importance of promoting physical activity among adolescence to prevent and control overweight and obesity.

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