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Thu 19 Jul 2012 12:15 PM

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Saudi Arabia world's third laziest nation - study

Only in Malta and Swaziland are adults more inactive than the Arab world's biggest country

Saudi Arabia world's third laziest nation - study
Saudi Arabias population is the third most slothful in the world, new research has found (AFP/Getty Images).

Saudi Arabia's population is the third most slothful in the world, new research has found, with 68.8 percent of adults failing to do enough physical exercise to keep themselves healthy.

Only in Malta and Swaziland do adults exert themselves less than Saudi Arabia, and women in the Gulf state are the world’s least active females, according to data published in the Lancet medical journal.

Kuwait and the UAE also rank in the top ten with 64.5 percent and 62.5 percent of adults respectively not meeting the recommended level of activity. Malta is the laziest country in the world with 71.9 percent of the population deemed inactive, while in Swaziland the proportion is 68.3 percent.

Nine eastern Mediterranean countries featured in the list with those over 15-years old in Libya considered the most active of the region (45.8 percent inactive), ahead of Lebanon (46.8 percent), Iraq (58.4 percent) and the UAE (62.5 percent).

The report, published to coincide with the London Olympics, warned that a lack of exercise is causing as many deaths - 5.3m - as smoking. One in ten deaths is caused by illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and breast and colon cancer.

Researchers, who said the problem was now so bad it should be treated as a pandemic, said governments need to look at ways to make physical activity more convenient, affordable and safer.

“With the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games, sport and physical activity will attract tremendous worldwide attention. Although the world will be watching elite athletes from many countries compete in sporting events... most spectators will be quite inactive,” said Pedro Hallal, one of the lead researchers.

“The global challenge is clear - make physical activity a public health priority throughout the world to improve health and reduce the burden of disease.”

It is recommended that adults do 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or gardening, each week.

The Lancet report follows weeks after a report published by BMC Public Health ranked Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain among the world’s top ten fattest nations.

The average person in Kuwait, the second fattest country in the world behind the US, weighs in at approximately 77.5 kg, 15.5kg heavier than the global average, said the report.

Gas-rich Qatar was ranked third globally with the average adult consuming just over 3,000 calories per day, followed by the UAE in fifth place (3017 calories) and Bahrain in tenth position (2889 calories).

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Mintee 7 years ago

what do you expect from a culture that does not encourage women to get outside and do sports..
the idea is for women to stay inside.. its all haraam, haraam, haraam..
they claim to have sports places for women, but the rules and regulations and not to mention the fees are so out of ordinary that is discourages women from going.

Fahd 7 years ago

Just because you do not understand a noble culture does not give the right to attack it.Saudis have restrictions on their women because of their love and protectiveness.
We can see the alternative in the western culture which sees women as mere sex symbols and equates freedom to women wearing skimpy clothes. Give me Saudi culture any day, it is one of the few cultures which gives true respect to women, and i prefer it over my own culture.

muhamadi arabia 7 years ago

forbiding women from even the most natural activity like :sports driving,voting and many many other things is NOT love and protectiveness and's mere disrespect....
saudi culture isn't arabia's real cultre...
man and women are equal..

Mike DeLonghi 7 years ago


Please tell me what is 'noble' about depriving Saudi the women the wonder of diving among the fish and corals in the Red Sea? What is 'noble' about dictating 12 year old girls who to marry?
What is 'noble' about wanting to tear down Churches?

SAM 7 years ago

Thank you for this piece of useless trash news. Next medical study would be about countries with the longest fingernails or countries with the biggest toes. Really, how do you define lazy. I exercised 3 hours yesterday but was too lazy to immediately report it to this moronic medical research centre. Go figure.

Mohammed 7 years ago

We should wait for a saudi woman to comment on really how Saudi laws affect Saudi women. However from a religious perspective, Saudi laws do not coincide with the true teachings of Islam.

Jennifer 7 years ago

The points that have been made about how this culture's insistence on confining women to their homes adds to the obesity epidemic, are excellent. Here are a few other considerations to add: having to wear the constricting veil in public places-I presume in gyms and health clubs-would be incredibly cumbersome and annoying and probably discourages women from going. On the overeating issue, I argue many of these women who are basically trapped in their homes all day are probably bored and/or depressed. Food maybe one of their few pleasures and indulgences in such a restrictive society. I can't see that changing unless their repressive practices end. To the male poster who said western culture just views women as sex symbols: Western culture could certainly lessen the exploitation of women, but at least our basic civil rights are upheld and we are not viewed as second class citizens in comparison to men. I'll take my imperfect Western culture to your rigid and inflexible way of life!

Telcoguy 7 years ago

I am not sure why all the discussion is about women, in fact the article not even one mentions any difference in obesity levels between men and women.
Most readers seem to assume that Saudi men are incredibly fit and all the overweight is concentrated in the female population, personally I find that hard to believe. Specially when you consider that other GCC countries are ranking not so far from KSA and women have much less restrictions in Qatar or UAE than in KSA.

RaOne 7 years ago

And You fail to see that US is the top rank in fatty people. So may be you need to re think on your analysis of countries that are half way around the world and not just create opinions that are biased.

Hassan Aijazi 7 years ago

It's a bit sad that the majority of the commenters here have turned this in to a "Let's bash Saudi culture regarding women", only because I believe most of you are somewhat misinformed. I lived in Saudi Arabia for a few years and have met women who are incredibly satisfied with their lives there. They work, shop, socialize and, yes, exercise. There are plenty of opportunities for women to join health clubs and gyms, it's not at all against government policy. The gyms for men and women are either separate, however, or have separate timings. No constricting headgear or anything of the sort :)

I think it has more to do with the recent change of culture in Saudi Arabia due to the influx of oil money. People are eating, socializing and relaxing more and not exercising. I have noticed people beginning to shift mindset now, with the opening of more fitness centers, healthy food establishments and even the slight beginning of coroporate policy encouraging healthier living......