Dietary transition and obesity in selected Arabicspeaking countries: A review of the current evidence

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Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal


Escalating obesity rates have become a significant public health problem in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and have been associated with shifts towards a westernized diet. This integrative review aimed to examine the current dietary trends and transitions and their association with obesity in Arabic-speaking countries of the MENA region. Relevant databases were searched for studies in MENA countries between 1998 and 2014 that investigated obesity trends and changes in dietary patterns at the regional level in all age groups. A total of 39 articles fulfilled the inclusion criteria. All the articles noted that obesity was increasingly prevalent and that there was a significant dietary shift away from traditional dietary patterns; 51% reported a shift towards a westernized diet and half found that the western diet was correlated with increased obesity. Culturally relevant dietary health education and health promotion strategies are warranted to address both the dietary shifts towards the westernized diet and the increasing obesity.

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