Food-based dietary guidelines of Arabic-speaking countries: A culturally congruent profile

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Public Health Nutrition


Objective Dietary guidelines for food groups, types and portion sizes are common practice at the national level. As the relationship between nutrition and disease and the influence of cultural identity on individual behaviour become clearer, dietary guidelines necessarily evolve. Today, the Arabic-speaking region is experiencing a dual burden of undernutrition and increasing rates of overweight and obesity. Cultural congruency among dietary guidelines in the Arabic-speaking region and how they affect health education, health promotion, and nutrition programme planning or individual dietary behaviours have yet to be examined. The present work provides dietitians and public health professionals a narrative review of proposed food guidelines for the Arabic-speaking region.Design The current review examined five established dietary guidelines within the Arabic-speaking region, namely the Arab Food Dome (Arab Gulf states), the Healthy Food Palm (Saudi Arabia), the Lebanese Dietary Guidelines, the Omani Guide to Healthy Eating and the Qatar Dietary Guidelines, and compared findings with the regional Eastern Mediterranean guidelines developed by the WHO. Individual guideline recommendations are tabled for comparative review.Setting The Arabic-speaking region.Participants Respective Arabic-speaking populations.Results Health educators, community health practitioners and nutrition professionals can benefit from the cultural contexts associated with dietary guidelines in this region.Conclusions Community-level policy and individual behaviour change will benefit from cultural sensitivity; health communication and behaviour change programming require cultural competence provided in the present review; and programme evaluation efforts (prior to and after implementation) should include a detailed understanding of how culture shapes regional policy and individual nutrition behaviours.

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