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Am J Hum Biol. 2004 May-Jun;16(3):346-53.

Physical activity and levels of inactivity in adolescent females ages 11-16 years in the United Arab Emirates.

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  • 1Nutrition and Food Science Group, School of Biological and Molecular Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford OX3 0BP, United Kingdom.


The purpose of this study was to investigate patterns of physical activity and levels of inactivity in adolescent females in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A total of 58 adolescent females, age 11-16 years, were recruited from two female-only governmental schools in Abu-Dhabi. Subjects were divided into two groups: 11-13 years (n = 22) and 14-16 years (n = 36). Physical activity patterns were determined from a 3-day activity diary. Total energy expenditure (TEE) was estimated using a factorial approach. The amount of physical activity was expressed as the physical activity level (PAL) and the activity-related energy expenditure (AEE). The number of hours spent watching television was estimated from the activity diaries. There were no significant differences in the energy expenditure parameters between age groups or between schooldays and weekends. PAL was low in both age groups. Television was the predominant leisure time pursuit. The number of hours per day spent watching television (median and interquartile range) was 2.5 (2.3-3.1) in 11-13 years and 2.5 (2.3-2.8) in 14-16 years. Television-watching was significantly higher during the weekend than schooldays: 11-13 years (P = 0.006) and 14-16 years (P < 0.001). In conclusion, the amount of physical activity undertaken by adolescent females in the UAE was very low. Cultural and weather restrictions and social change of the community in the UAE are not conducive to physical activity and play a major role in levels of physical inactivity. This may explain, in part, the rise in the incidence of obesity in this population.

Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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