Prevalence and Etiology: Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Countries

  • Hafez Elzein
  • Sima Hamadeh
Part of the Springer Series on Epidemiology and Public Health book series (SSEH, volume 2)


The increasing prevalence of obesity at an alarming rate in many parts of the world probably has multiple underlying etiologies. Obesity is generally attributed to a combination of genetic and/or environmental factors. In children, genetic, prenatal and perinatal factors have a great effect on individual predisposition, practices and behaviors, contributing to a long-term positive energy balance.


Body Mass Index Middle East United Arab Emirate Arabian Peninsula Adolescent Obesity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Abdulbari, B. (2006). Prevalence of obesity, overweight, and underweight in Qatari adolescents. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 27, 39–45.Google Scholar
  2. Abdulbari, B., & Ihab, T. (2006). Prevalence of overweight, obesity, and associated psychological problems in Qatari’s female population. Obesity Reviews, 7, 139–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Abdulbari, B., Abdulaziz, K., Ihab, T., & Osman, S. (2006). Prevalence of dieting, overweight, body image satisfaction and associated psychological problems in adolescent boys. Nutrition and Food Science, 36, 295–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Al-Haddad, F., Little, B., & Abdul Ghafoor, A.G. (2005). Child obesity in United Arab Emirates schoolchildren:A national study. Annals of Human Biology, 32, 72–79.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Al-Hourani, H.M., Henry, C.J.K., & Lightowler, H.J. (2003). Prevalence of overweight among adolescent females in the United Arab Emirates. American Journal of Human Biology, 15, 758–764.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Al-Isa, A.N. (2004). Body mass index, overweight and obesity among Kuwaiti intermediate school adolescents aged 10–14 years. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 58, 1273–1277.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Al-Isa, A.N., & Moussa, M.A. (1999). Factors associated with overweight and obesity among Kuwaiti kindergarten children aged 3–5 years. Nutrition and Health, 13, 125–139.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Al-Nuaim, A.R., Bamgboye, E.A., & Al-Herbish, A. (1996). The pattern of growth and obesity in Saudi Arabian male school children. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 20, 1000–1005.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Al-Rukban, M.O. (2003), Obesity among Saudi male adolescents in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Medical Journal, 24, 27–33.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Al-Sendi, A.M., Shetty, P., & Musaiger, A.O. (2003). Prevalence of overweight and obesity among Bahraini adolescents: a comparison between three different sets of criteria. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57, 471–474.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Al Turki, Y.A. (2007). Overweight and obesity among university students, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Middle East Journal of Family Medicine, 5, 1–3.Google Scholar
  12. American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement (2003). Prevention of pediatric overweight and obesity. Pediatrics, 112, 424–430.Google Scholar
  13. Asfaw, A. (2007). Micronutrient deficiency and the prevalence of mothers’ overweight / obesity in Egypt. Economics and Human Biology, 5, 471–483.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Azizi, F., Allahverdian, S., Mirmirian, P., Rahmani, M., & Mohammadi, F. (2001). Dietary factors and body mass index in a group of Iranian adolescents: Tehran lipid and glucose study-2. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 71, 123–127.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bar Dayan, Y., Elishkevits, K., Grotto, I., Goldstein, L., Goldberg, A., Shvarts, S., Levin, A., Ohana, N., Onn, E., & Levi, Y. (2005). The prevalence of obesity and associated morbidity among 17-year-old Israeli conscripts. Public Health, 119, 385–389.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ben Mami Ben Miled, F., Dakhli, S., Blouza, S., & Achour, A. (2000). Obesity in children. Tunis Medicine, 78, 162–166.Google Scholar
  17. Ben Salem, K., Mandhouj, O., Letaief, M., Mtar, A., & Soltani, M. (2006). Distribution of anthropometrical parameters in infants in the Monastir region, Tunisia. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 12 (Suppl 2), S168–S177.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Ben Slama, F., Achour, A., Belhadj, O., Hsairi, M., Oueslati, M., & Achour, N. (2002). Obesity and lifestyle in a population of male school children aged 6 to 10 years in Ariana (Tunisia). Tunis Medicine, 80, 542–547.Google Scholar
  19. Benjelloun, S.. (2002). Nutrition transition in Morocco. Public Health Nutrition, 5, 135–140.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Bakr, E.M., Ismail, N.A., & Mahaba, H.M. (2002). Impact of lifestyle on the nutritional status of medical students at Ain Shams University. Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association, 77, 29–49.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Blouza-Chabchoub, S., Rached-Amrouche, C., Jamoussi-Kammoun, H., & Bouchaa, N. (2006). Frequency and risk factors of obesity in Tunisian adolescents. Tunis Medicine, 84, 714–716.Google Scholar
  22. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. Atlanta (December 2008);
  23. Chakar, H., & Salameh, P. (2006). Adolescent obesity in Lebanese private schools. European Journal of Public Health, 16, 648–651.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Cole, T.J., Bellizi, M.C., & Flegal, K.M. (2000). Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey. British Medical Journal, 320, 1240–1243.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Disease Control Priorities Project. Global burden of disease and risk factors. (November 2008);
  26. El-Hazmi, M., & Warsy, A. (2002). The prevalence of obesity and overweight in 1–18-year-old Saudi children. Annals of Saudi Medicine, 22, 303–307.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Flodmark, C.E., Lissau, I., & Moreno, L.A.. (2004). New insights into the field of children and adolescents’ obesity: the European perspective. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 28, 1189–1196.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gargari, B.P., Behzad, M.H., Ghassabpour, S., & Ayat, A. (2004). Prevalence of overweight and obesity among high-school girls in Tabriz, Iran in 2001. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 25, 288–291.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Ghannem, H., Trabelsi, L., Gaha, R., Harrabi, I., & Essoussi, A.S. (2001). Study of cardiovascular disease risk factors among rural schoolchildren in Sousse, Tunisia. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 7, 617–624.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Gittelsohn, J., & Kumar, M.B. (2007). Preventing childhood obesity and diabetes: is it time to move out of the school? Pediatric Diabetes, 8 (Suppl. 9), 1–15.Google Scholar
  31. Hamadeh, R.R. (2000). Non-communicable diseases among the Bahraini population: a review. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 6, 1091–1097.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. International Cablemakers Federation. MENA Definition. Vienna (November 2008);
  33. Israeli, E., Schochat, T., Korzets, Z., Tekes-Manova, D., Bernheim, J., & Golan, E. (2006). Prehypertension and obesity in adolescents: a population study. American Journal of Hypertension, 19, 708–712.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jabre, P., Sikias, P., Khater-Menassa, B., Baddoura, R., & Awada, H. (2005). Overweight children in Beirut: prevalence estimates and characteristics. Child: Care, Health and Development, 31, 159–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jackson, R.T., Rashed, M., & Saad-Eldin, R. (2003). Rural urban differences in weight, body image, and dieting behavior among adolescent Egyptian schoolgirls. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 54, 1–11.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Jackson, R.T., Rashed, M., Hwalla, N., & Al-Somaie, M. (2007). Comparison of BMI for age in adolescent girls in 3 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 13, 1–10.Google Scholar
  37. James, P. (2004). Obesity: The worldwide epidemic. Clinics in Dermatology, 23, 276–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Janghorbani, M., & Parvin, F. (1998). Prevalence of overweight and thinness in high-school girls in Kerman, Iran. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 22, 629–633.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kaluski, D.N., & Berry, E.M. (2005). Prevalence of obesity in Israel. Obesity Reviews, 6, 115–116.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Katzmarzyk, P.T., Srinivasan, S.R., & Chen, W. (2004). Body mass index, waist circumference, and clustering of cardiovascular disease risk factors in a biracial sample of children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 114, e198–e205.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Keinan-Boker, L., Noyman, N., Chinich, A., Green, M.S., & Nitzan-Kaluski, D. (2005). Overweight and obesity in Israel: findings of the first national health and nutrition survey (MABAT). Israel Medical Association Journal, 7, 219–223.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Kelishadi, R. (2006). Global Dimension of Childhood Obesity in the Eastern Mediterranean region. In R.K. Flamenbaum (Ed). Global dimensions of childhood obesity (pp. 71–89). New York: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  43. Kelishadi, R. (2007). Childhood overweight, obesity, and the metabolic syndrome in developing countries. Epidemiologic Reviews, 29, 62–76.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kelishadi, R., Hashemipour, M., Sarraf-Zadegan, N., & Amiri, M. (2001). Trend of atherosclerosis risk factors in children of Isfahan. Asian Cardiovascular and Thoracic Annals, 9, 36–40.Google Scholar
  45. Kelishadi, R., Pour, M.H., Sarraf-Zadegan, N., Sadry, G.H., Ansari, R., Alikhassy, H., & Bashardoust, N. (2003) Obesity and associated modifiable environmental factors in Iranian adolescents: Isfahan Healthy Heart Program-Heart Health Promotion from Childhood. Pediatrics International, 45, 435–442.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kelishadi, R., Hashemipour, M., Sadeghi, M., Roohafza, H.R., Tavasoli, A.A., & Khosravi, A. (2005). The impact of familial factors on obesity in Iranian children and adolescents. Journal of Pediatric Neonatal, 2, 16–23.Google Scholar
  47. Kelishadi, R., Ardalan, G., Gheiratmand, R., Gouya, M.M., Razhagi, E.M., Delavari, A., Majdzadeh, R., Heshmat, R., Motoghian, M., Barekati, H., Mahmoud-Arabi, M.S., & Riazi, M.M. (2007). Association of physical activity and dietary behaviours in relation to the body mass index in a national sample of Iranian children and adolescents: CASPIAN study. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 85, 19–26.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kelishadi, R., Alikhani, S., Delavari, A., Alaedini, F., Safaie, A., & Hojatzadeh, E. (2008). Obesity and associated lifestyle behaviors in Iran: findings from the First National Non-Communicable Disease Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. Public Health Nutrition, 11, 246–251.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kharboush, I.F., Youssef, A.A., Makhlouf, M.M., Zaghloul, A.A., El-Hamid, A.A., & El Masry, A.G. (2005). Women health in poor urban settings in Alexandria. Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association, 80, 321–348.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Kolahdooz, F., Sheikholeslam, R., Naghavi, M., & Abdollah, Z. (2004). Junk food consumption: an indicator of changing dietary habit in Iranian children. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 13, S121.Google Scholar
  51. Kuczmarski, R.J., Ogden, C.L., & Grummer-Strawn, L.M. (2000). CDC growth charts: United States. Advanced Data, 314, 1–27.Google Scholar
  52. Lafta, R.K., Al Saffar, A.J., Eisa, S.A., Hayyawi, A.H., & Abdulhameed, F.N. (2007). Obesity in children: A sample from Baghdad. Qatar Medical Journal, 16, 10–15.Google Scholar
  53. Laouani Kechrid, C., Hmouda, H., Ben Naceur, M.H., Ghannem, H., Toumi, S., & Ajmi, F. (2004). High blood pressure for people aged more than 60 years in the district of Sousse. Tunis Medicine, 82, 1001–1005.Google Scholar
  54. Lasserre, A., Chiolero, A., Paccaud, F., & Bovet, P. (2007). Worldwide trends in childhood obesity. Swiss Medical Weekly, 137, 157–158.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Levin, B.E., & Govek, E. (1998). Gestational obesity accentuates obesity in obesity-prone progeny. American Journal of Physiology, 275, R1374–1379.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Marsh, H., Hau, K.T., Sung, R.Y.T., & Yu, C.W. (2007). Childhood obesity, gender, actual-ideal body image discrepancies, and physical self-concept in Hong-Kong children: cultural differences in the value of moderation. Developmental Psychology, 43, 647–662.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Maziak, W., Rastam, S., Mzayek, F., Ward, K.D., Eissenberg, T., & Keil, U. (2007). Cardiovascular health among adults in Syria: a model from developing countries. Annals of Epidemiology, 17, 713–720.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Mohammadpour-Ahranjani, B., Rashidi, A., Karandish, M., Eshraghian, M.R., & Kalantari, N. (2004). Prevalence of overweight and obesity in adolescent Tehrani students, 2000–2001: an epidemic health problem. Public Health Nutrition, 7, 645–648.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mokhtar, N., Elati, J., Chabir, R., Bour, A., Elkari, K., Schlossman, N., Caballero, B., & Aguenaou, H. (2001). Diet culture and obesity in Northern Africa. The Journal of Nutrition, 131, 887S-892S.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Monteiro, C.A., Conde, W.L., & Popkin, B.M. (2002). Is obesity replacing to undernutrition? Evidence from different social classes in Brazil. Public Health Nutrition, 5, 105–112.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Monteiro, C.A., Conde, W.L., Lu, B., & Popkin, B.M. (2004). Obesity and inequities in health in the developing world. International Journal of Obesity, 28, 1181–1186.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Moreno, L.A., Pineda, I., & Rodriguez, G. (2002). Waist circumference for the screening of the metabolic syndrome in children. Acta Paediatrica, 91, 1307- 1312.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Moussa, M.A., Shaltout, A.A., Mourad, M., Alsheikh, N., Agha, N., & Galal, D.O. (1999). Factors associated with obesity in Kuwaiti children. European Journal of Epidemiolology, 15, 41–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Must, A., Dallal, G.E., & Dietz, W.H. (1991). Reference data for obesity: 85th and 95th percentile of body mass index and triceps skinfold thickness. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 53, 839–846.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. National Health Accounts (NHA) (2003). National Health Accounts and its relevance to policymaking in the Middle East and North Africa. NHA Regional Policy Brief, 1–4.Google Scholar
  66. Onis, M. (2004). The use of anthropometry in the prevention of childhood overweight. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 28, S81-S85.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Papandreou, C., Abu Murad, T., Jideh, C., Abdeen, Z., Philalithis, A., & Tzanakis, N. (2008). Obesity in Mediterranean region (1997–2007): a systematic review. Obesity Reviews, 9, 389–399.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Rguibi, M., & Belahsen, R. (2004). Overweight and obesity among urban Sahraoui women of South Morocco. Ethnicity and Disease, 14, 542–547.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Rguibi, M., & Belahsen, R. (2007). Prevalence of obesity in Morocco. Obesity Reviews, 8, 11–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Salazar-Martinez, E., Allen, B., Fernandez-Ortega, C., Torres-Mejia, G., Galal, O., & Lazcano-Ponce, E. (2006). Overweight and obesity status among adolescents from Mexico and Egypt. Archives of Medical Research, 37, 535–542.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sheikholeslam, R., Mohamad, A., Mohamad, K., & Vaseghi, S. (2004). Non communicable disease risk factors in Iran. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 13, S100.Google Scholar
  72. Sibai, A., Hwalla, N., Adra, N., & Rahal, B. (2003). Prevalence and covariates of obesity in Lebanon: Findings from the first epidemiological study. Obesity Research, 11, 1353–1361.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Soutoudeh, G., Khosravi, Sh., Khajehnasiri, F., & Khalkhali, H.R. (2005). High prevalence of overweight and obesity in women of Islamshahr, Iran. Asia Pacific of Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 14, 169–172.Google Scholar
  74. University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. (October 2008);
  75. Wang, Y., & Lobstein, T. (2006). Worldwide trends in childhood over-weight and obesity. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, 1, 11–25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Whitaker, R.C., & Dietz, W.H. (1998). Role of the prenatal environment in the development of obesity. Journal of Pediatrics, 132, 768–776.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. World Development Indicators (WDI), World Bank (2008). Middle East and North Africa: regional data from the WDI database. Regional Fact Sheet from the World Development Indicators 11 April 2008, 1–2.Google Scholar
  78. World Health Organization (WHO) (1997). Obesity: Preventing and managing the global epidemic. Report of a WHO Consultation on Obesity, Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  79. World Health Organization (WHO) Europe (2005). The challenge of obesity in the WHO European Region. Fact sheet EURO/13/05 2005, 1–6.Google Scholar
  80. World Health Organization (WHO) Europe (2007). European environment and health information system. Prevalence of excess body weight and obesity in children and adolescents. Fact sheet No.2.3 2007, 1–4.Google Scholar
  81. Yahia, N., Achkar, A., Abdallah, A., & Rizk, S. (2008). Eating habits and obesity among Lebanese university students. Nutrition Journal, 7, 32.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of MedicineAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon

Personalised recommendations