Amid rising obesity rates, Saudi Arabia's conservative leadership is considering allowing one measure that could prove hugely effective in combating obesity-related illnesses among young girls: allowing them to work out at school.
Saudi media outlets reported on Wednesday that the country's powerful Shura Council has asked the Ministry of Education to consider allowing sports for girls at public schools, providing they would conform to Sharia rules on dress and gender segregation. The country lifted a ban on sports for girls in private schools last year, Reuters reported.
Asked by HuffPostLive host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin whether lifting the ban could make a difference in combating obesity in the country, Saudi author Reem Asaad pointed out that the opportunities for women to practice sports have long been limited. "Obesity is the disease of the affluent," she told Ahmed. "In the case of Saudi Arabia not everyone is affluent, but physical activity for women has been limited for decades."
Asaad explained that while many private schools included sports as part of their curriculum despite the official ban, public schools never did. "That's where women tend to come from more conservative backgrounds and physical activity is not favored," she said.
Fox news has noted that according to a study published in the Saudi Journal for Obesity, nearly 10 percent of Saudi Arabia's school-aged youths met the World Health Organization's criteria for obesity.
Take a look at the video above for the full HuffPostLive interview with Reem Asaad.