The Open Public Health Journal

ISSN: 1874-9445 ― Volume 13, 2020

Utilizing the Health Belief Model in Determining the Association between Perceptions on Obesity and Exercise Behavior of Saudi University Students

Yasser Taher Al-Hassan1, Eduardo Fabella2, *, Edric Estrella3, Hassan Abdulfatah Al-Ramadan1, Abdullah Hassan Bujbara1
1 Al-Ahsa Public Health Directorate, Ministry of Health, Hofuf, Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia
2 Quality Assurance and Academic Development Unit, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Faisal University, Hofuf, Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia
3 Public Health Department, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Faisal University, Hofuf, Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia



To determine the association between the perceptions on obesity of Saudi university students and their Physical Activity (PA) as measured by Metabolic Equivalents (METs) Score.


This study utilized an analytical cross-sectional design. The level of perception on obesity was determined based on the responses to the Obesity Health Belief Model questionnaire while the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) was used to measure the students’ activity levels. Students with METs scores of less than 600 were classified as inactive. Descriptive and inferential statistics were computed using Epi Info version 7.


Majority (75.54%) of participants had a high level of perception of the seriousness of obesity. Only half of the participants had a high level of the perception of susceptibility towards becoming obese. Although most (93.53%) of the students had a high level of perception of the benefits of physical activity on obesity prevention, 98.2% had a moderate to high perception of the barriers to engage in physical activity. The prevalence of physical inactivity was 44.6% (95% CI: 38.67 - 50.66%) and was higher among female (51.71%) than male (24.66%) students. There was a positive linear relationship between the university students’ perception of obesity and their level of physical activity with a β coefficient = 72.6 (p value = 0.0003).


Saudi university students have a high perception of the seriousness of obesity and the benefits of physical activity towards obesity prevention; however, only half of them believe that they are susceptible to becoming obese. The students’ perceptions of obesity influence their physical activity.

Keywords: Obesity, Physical activity, Health behavior, Excercise behavior, Metabolic equivalents, Non-communicable disease.

Article Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2020
Volume: 13
First Page: 87
Last Page: 93
Publisher Id: TOPHJ-13-87
DOI: 10.2174/1874944502013010087

Article History:

Received Date: 01/11/2019
Revision Received Date: 04/02/2020
Acceptance Date: 08/02/2020
Electronic publication date: 20/03/2020
Collection year: 2020

© 2020 Al-Hassan et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Quality Assurance and Academic Development Unit, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia; Tel: +9664918736; E-mail:

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