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Are UAE residents among fittest or laziest in the world?

Stanford scientists examine physical activity levels of 700,000 residents by measuring number of steps taken daily

Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News
It is established that those who walk less are prone to obesity, while those who walk a lot more tend to be healthy and fit.

Dubai: Have you ever wondered who are the fittest or laziest residents on earth?

Researchers at Stanford University have recently studied the activity levels of 700,000 people around the world using data collected from smartphones that record the number of steps users take daily.

Daily average: walking 4km/day

And unfortunately, residents in the UAE may not be able to proclaim they are the most active in the world, as they walk an average of 4,516 steps each day, falling below the global average.

According to researchers, people around the world walk an average of 4,916 steps daily, equivalent to four kilometres.

People living in Hong Kong appear to be the fittest, walking 6,880 steps (six kilometres), on a daily basis, while those in Indonesia appear to be the least active, walking 3,513 steps.

Stanford scientists spent months analysing the habits of hundreds of thousands of people from 111 countries.

The dataset consists of 68 million days of physical activity of 717,000 men and women.

Smartphone data

The study was made possible by acquiring data recorded by smartphones, which have built-in sensors that can automatically log the number of steps that users take each day.

It was established that those who walk less are prone to obesity, while those who walk a lot more tend to be healthy and fit.

For example, in Sweden, where residents are among the world’s most active, walking 5,863 steps daily, the obesity rate is one of the lowest in the world.

The level of physical activity of residents in the UAE is just slightly above Egypt (4,315 steps), Brazil (4,289), Saudi Arabia (3,807), Philippines (4,008) and Malaysia (3,963), among the few countries at the bottom of the list.


UAE residents are far less active compared to their peers in Europe and Asia, such as United Kingdom, where residents walk 5,444 steps each day, Germany (5,205 steps), Japan (6,010), China (6,189) and Singapore (5,674).

Obesity in the UAE

Other studies had earlier found that there are more obese people in the UAE than in many other countries in the world.

As of 2008, about a third (32.7 per cent) of the UAE population are considered obese, making the country’s obesity rate the 22nd highest in the world, according to the CIA handbook.

Number of steps taken daily in 46 countries (countries ranked based on number of subjects):