The rising prevalence of overweight and obesity and their health implications is a major public health concern worldwide. This study set out to understand the relationship between the number of hours spent watching television and Body Mass Index (BMI) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia using data from the Saudi Health Interview Survey.
The study employed both ordinary least squares and quantile regressions to estimate the mean and distributional association of prolonged television watching and BMI.
The findings showed that prolonged television viewing is associated with larger BMI values. Additionally, the relationship was found to be greater towards the lower and upper tails of the BMI range and insignificant in the middle of the BMI distribution. Furthermore, the findings also showed that there is a gender gap in BMI levels, where females are likely to have higher BMI values than males.
The creation of more proactive recreational programs that can act as substitutes to television watching is recommended in order to reduce the amount of time that individuals spend watching television. It is also recommended that such interventions are tailored towards improving females’ levels of physical activity. The inclusion of television programs aimed at encouraging physical exercise and healthy diets is also imperative.