International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 60, Supplement 1, pp 3–11 | Cite as

Cardiovascular risk factor trends in the Eastern Mediterranean region: evidence from four countries is alarming

  • Kaan SözmenEmail author
  • Belgin Ünal
  • Olfa Saidi
  • Habiba Ben Romdhane
  • Niveen M. E. Abu-Rmeileh
  • Abdullatif Husseini
  • Fouad Fouad
  • Wasim Maziak
  • Kathleen Bennett
  • Martin O’Flaherty
  • Simon Capewell
  • Julia Critchley
Original Article



Many Eastern Mediterranean countries are undergoing dramatic socioeconomic, demographic and life style changes and face noncommunicable disease (NCD) epidemics. We evaluated recent trends in major NCD risk factors in occupied Palestinian territories (OPT), Turkey, Syria and Tunisia.


We searched published and unpublished sources for systolic blood pressure (SBP), diabetes, smoking, body mass index (BMI), and cholesterol trends for both men and women aged 35–84 in each country from 1995 to 2009.


Smoking prevalence was stable over time in Tunisia and Syria, but decreasing in Turkey (annual change −0.9 %) and OPT (annual change −0.7 %). Mean BMI (annual change of 0.1 % for Turkey, 0.2 % for OPT and Tunisia and 0.3 % in Syria) and diabetes (annual change of 0.3 % for Turkey, 0.4 % for OPT and Tunisia and 0.7 % in Syria) prevalence increased in each country. SBP levels increased slightly in Tunisia and Syria but decreased in OPT and Turkey.


Recent risk factor trends are worrying. Good quality data on the extent and determinants of NCDs are essential to respond the changing health needs of populations with burgeoning NCD epidemics.


Trend Risk factors Cardiovascular diseases Diabetes Obesity Smoking 



This work was completed as part of the MedCHAMPS project (EC FP7 grant number 223075).

Supplementary material

38_2014_610_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (780 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 780 kb)


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kaan Sözmen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Belgin Ünal
    • 2
  • Olfa Saidi
    • 3
  • Habiba Ben Romdhane
    • 3
  • Niveen M. E. Abu-Rmeileh
    • 4
  • Abdullatif Husseini
    • 4
  • Fouad Fouad
    • 5
  • Wasim Maziak
    • 6
  • Kathleen Bennett
    • 7
  • Martin O’Flaherty
    • 8
  • Simon Capewell
    • 8
  • Julia Critchley
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Public Health, Faculty of MedicineKatip Celebi UniversityIzmirTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Public Health, Faculty of MedicineDokuz Eylul UniversityIzmirTurkey
  3. 3.Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Research Laboratory, Faculty of MedicineUniversity Tunis El ManarTunisTunisia
  4. 4.Institute of Community and Public HealthBirzeit UniversityRamallahPalestine
  5. 5.Syrian Center for Tobacco StudiesAleppoSyria
  6. 6.Florida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  7. 7.Department of Pharmacology and TherapeuticsTrinity CollegeDublinIreland
  8. 8.Department of Public HealthUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  9. 9.Population Health Research InstituteSt George’s, University of LondonLondonUK

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