Influence of lifestyle choices and risk behaviours for obesity among young adult women in the United Arab Emirates University: a cross-sectional survey
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Health Sciences
The impact of a rapid economic growth on the patterns and trends of overweight and obesity is profound. Obesity is closely linked to lifestyle choices and the risk behaviours that lead to obesity-related morbidities in young adults can be traced to the acceptable norms from childhood through to adulthood. The aims of this study were to estimate the prevalence of overweight and obesity using the World Health Organization classification and to investigate the influence of perceptions/beliefs and health-risk behaviours and their association with overweight and obesity among female university students of the United Arab Emirates University. A cross-sectional survey of the lifestyle choices, risk behaviours and perceptions of obesity with the Body Mass Index (BMI) status of 321 young adult women aged 18-30 years was conducted using a self-administered questionnaire. The female students responded to questions about their diet and physical activity patterns. They reported their height/weight, and weight-related measurements were taken to calculate the BMI. Overall, 20.2% of the students were overweight while 8.40% were obese. The likelihood of being overweight or obese was higher among students who were older, married and had a family history of obesity. Faculty of study (p=0.018) was significantly associated with prevalence of overweight and obesity. Many of the students did not consume fruits and vegetables or eat breakfast daily. Students who spent long hours on sedentary activities were more likely to be obese, with lack of time reported as a major reason for physical inactivity. Respondents wanted to lose weight most commonly for better health and well-being and because of problems with clothes sizes. In view of the high number of health risk behaviours and prevalence of overweight and obesity, prompt action is needed to initiate and sustain interventions and preventive measures that could change the health-compromising behaviours associated with excess weight.