A cross-country profile of physical activity and sedentary behavior is lacking within Eastern Mediterranean region (EMR) counties. The objectives were to examine prevalence of physical activity and sedentary behavior among adolescents of 10 EMR countries, and to describe potential differences in the 2 factors by sex, age, and BMI.
A total of 23,562 adolescents were included from 10 EMR counties based on completeness of data (physical activity, sedentary behavior, age, sex, weight and height) from the Global school-based student health survey (GSHS).
Overall prevalence of physical activity (19%) is low and sedentary behavior is high (29%), with significant differences among counties. Oman had the highest (26%) and Egypt had the lowest (9%) prevalence of active students. Prevalence of sedentary behavior was the highest in United Arab Emirates (40%) and lowest in Pakistan (8%). Physical activity was lower and sedentary behavior was higher among female adolescents. A linear trend was observed between BMI and both physical activity and sedentary behavior; a similar pattern was seen with age.
There is a need for interventions to increase the prevalence of adolescents meeting physical activity recommendations in the 10 countries. More investigation is required to understand the cultural context of sex and BMI influence on activity patterns.