Public Health Nutrition

Research Papers


Physical activity, sedentary behaviours and dietary habits among Kuwaiti adolescents: gender differences

Ahmad Allafia1, Ahmad R Al-Haifia2, Mohammad A Al-Fayeza2, Buthaina I Al-Atharia2, Fahhad A Al-Ajmia2, Hazzaa M Al-Hazzaaa3, Abdulrahman O Musaigera4 and Faruk Ahmeda5 c1

a1 Department of Family Sciences, College for Women, Kuwait University, Safat, Kuwait

a2 Food and Nutrition Science, College of Health Sciences, Showaikh, Kuwait

a3 Pediatric Exercise Physiology Research Laboratory, College of Education, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

a4 Arab Nutrition Center, Manama and Nutrition and Health Studies Unit, Deanship of Scientific Research, University of Bahrain, Manama, Bahrain

a5 Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Public Health and Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, QLD 4222, Australia


Objective The present study was designed to assess physical activity, sedentary behaviours and dietary habits among adolescents in Kuwait and to compare the differences between genders.

Design A cross-sectional study was conducted among secondary-school children who participated in the Arab Teens Lifestyle Study (ATLS), a multi-centre collaborative project.

Setting Secondary schools in Kuwait.

Subjects Adolescents (463 boys and 443 girls), aged 14–19 years.

Results Nearly half (44·6 %) of the boys and three-quarters (76·0 %) of the girls did not meet the recommended daily physical activity levels (≥2520 MET-min/week, moderate to vigorous intensity). Nearly all (96·3 % of boys and 96·7 % of girls) adolescents reported spending >2 h/d on screen time, with girls found to spend more time per day watching television (P = 0·02) and using a computer (P < 0·001). The large majority of the adolescents reported skipping breakfast and not having milk and milk products, vegetables and fruit daily, while nearly two-thirds of the boys and girls had sugar-sweetened drinks on more than 3 d/week. Compared with girls, boys reported consuming more fruit (3·4 v. 2·8 times/week, P = 0·001), dairy products (4·5 v. 3·6 times/week, P = 0·001) and energy drinks (1·3 v. 1·1 times/week, P = 0·003).

Conclusions The majority of the Kuwaiti adolescents, especially girls, do not perform adequate physical activity, spend more time on sedentary activities and have unhealthy dietary practices. The findings emphasize an urgent need for implementing an appropriate intervention for promoting physical activity, healthy eating and reducing sedentary behaviours among these children.

(Received February 28 2013)

(Revised June 11 2013)

(Accepted July 23 2013)

(Online publication August 30 2013)


  • Physical activity;
  • Sedentary behaviours;
  • Dietary habits;
  • Adolescents;
  • Kuwait


c1 Corresponding author: Email