To determine the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors among students in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
A cross-sectional study was conducted during 1994 on a sample of students selected from 49 public schools using a multistage stratified random sampling technique. For all students, an interview was conducted and anthropometric and blood pressure measurements were obtained. Fasting glucose and total cholesterol levels on a capillary blood sample were measured using Accutrend for a subsample of students.
Of the 4042 students selected, 71% were males and the overall mean age was 15.3 ± 2.7 years. After age adjustment, about 23% of the students were found overweight. In addition, 6.4% and 9% of the students were found to have systolic and diastolic hypertension, respectively, with no statistically significant difference between males and females. Among 1432 students, 4% of males and 2% of females had hypercholesterolemia (p=0.06). Hyperglycemia was found in 0.4% of males and 0.6% of females. Among 1834 students in the 9th to 12th grades, 6.9% of males and 0.5% of females were current cigarette smokers.
Since attitudes and behaviors that influence future health are established during childhood and adolescence, intervention to prevent cardiovascular diseases (in adult life) should take place in childhood and youth to reduce the risk factors and schools have a great role to play in the promotion of good health.