Background: The inactive lifestyle is becoming prevalent in many developed and developing countries including Saudi Arabia. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of neighborhoods’ characteristics on physical activity (PA) levels and body mass index (BMI) in Saudi adolescents.
Methods: The anthropometric measurement of 380 secondary-school (boys = 199; girls = 181) from different geographical locations such as urban, rural farm and rural desert was taken using the Seca digital scales for weight and Seca portable measure for height. The BMI was calculated using the formula kg/m2 followed by participants wearing piezoelectric, New-Lifestyles NL-2000 PA Monitor, and completing the international physical activity short form questionnaire.
Results: The findings indicated, an average boys recorded 9180 steps per day compared to girls 5580 and the univariate ANOVA revealed a significant difference between genders steps per day in three geographical areas (F1,334 = 70.01, p < 0.001). The BMI results demonstrated that participant from rural farm had lower BMI (mean = 21.01 kg/m2) compared to urban location (mean = 24.12 kg/m2) and rural desert youth (mean = 25.58 kg/m2) indicating significant differences in BMI status in geographical locations (F2,379 = 16.40, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: The inactivity and obesity prevalence are prevalent amongst demographic groups in Al-Ahsa. Therefore, future policies and interventions could target this populations especially the rural desert youth in which the health risk could be higher.