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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 232164, 11 pages
Research Article

Perceived Barriers to Healthy Eating and Physical Activity among Adolescents in Seven Arab Countries: A Cross-Cultural Study

1Arab Centre for Nutrition, P.O. Box 26923, Manama, Bahrain
2Department of Mathematics, College of Science, Sakhir, Bahrain
3Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Allied Health Science, The Hashemite University, Zarqa, Jordan
4Department of Nutrition and Health, Ministry of Education, Dubai, UAE
5Elia Nutrition and Health Centre, Kuwait, Kuwait
6Dietetic Clinic, Damascus, Syria
7Department of Food Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tripoli, Tripoli, Libya
8Faculty of Agriculture, Hebron University, Hebron, Palestine
9Nutrition Department, Makassed Hospital, Jerusalem, Palestine
10NutriDar, Algiers, Algeria

Received 17 August 2013; Accepted 25 September 2013

Academic Editors: N. Sarraf Zadegan and J. Telfair

Copyright © 2013 Abdulrahman O. Musaiger et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. To highlight the perceived personal, social, and environmental barriers to healthy eating and physical activity among Arab adolescents. Method. A multistage stratified sampling method was used to select 4698 students aged 15–18 years (2240 males and 2458 females) from public schools. Seven Arab counties were included in the study, namely, Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. Self-reported questionnaire was used to list the barriers to healthy eating and physical activity facing these adolescents. Results. It was found that lack of information on healthy eating, lack of motivation to eat a healthy diet, and not having time to prepare or eat healthy food were the main barriers to healthy eating among both genders. For physical activity, the main barriers selected were lack of motivation to do physical activity, less support from teachers, and lack of time to do physical activity. In general, females faced more barriers to physical activity than males in all countries included. There were significant differences between males and females within each country and among countries for most barriers. Conclusion. Intervention programmes to combat obesity and other chronic noncommunicable diseases in the Arab world should include solutions to overcome the barriers to weight maintenance, particularly the sociocultural barriers to practising physical activity.