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Publication date: 
March 5, 2016


The health status of the young people is an important indicator for future health and health care needs of the next generation. In order to understand the health risk factors of Saudi youth, we analyzed data from a large national survey in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


The Saudi Health Information Survey sample included 2,382 youths aged 15 to 24 years old. The questionnaire included information on socio-demographic characteristics, risk factors, risky behaviors, chronic conditions, functional status, health care utilization, and anthropometric and blood pressure measurements.


Only 45.9% of men and 48.4% of women had normal body mass index (BMI). Men were more likely than women to smoke cigarettes or shisha. The prevalence of daily consumption of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables was 6.6%. The prevalence of no or insufficient physical activity was 41.8% in men and 75.6% in women (P < 0.001). Around 40% of men and 25% of women had abnormal blood pressure. Mean BMI and prevalence of insufficient physical activity, current smoking, and hypertension were higher in 20- to 24-year-olds than younger ages. Women were more likely to report that they never use seatbelts (82.2% vs. 65.4%).


The prevalence of modifiable risk factors and risky driving behaviors is very high among Saudi youth. If these current behaviors are not reversed during this crucial age period, the burden of disease and injuries will rise in the future. Our findings call for developing health prevention programs for youths in Saudi Arabia.


Moradi-Lakeh M, El Bcheraoui C, Tuffaha M, Daoud F, Al Saeedi M, Basulaiman M, Memish ZA, Al Mazroa MA, Al Rabeeah AA, Mokdad AH. The health of Saudi youths: current challenges and future opportunities. BMC Family Practice. 2016 March 5; 17:26. doi: 10.1186/s12875-016-0425-z.