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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(9), 3637-3671; doi:10.3390/ijerph8093637
Review

The Paradox of Nutrition-Related Diseases in the Arab Countries: The Need for Action

1,2,* , 3
 and
4
1 Nutrition and Health Studies Unit, Deanship of Scientific Research, University of Bahrain, Sakhair, Zallaq Street, Bahrain 2 Arab Center for Nutrition, Street 1535, Muharraq, Bahrain 3 Department of Health Sciences, Qatar University, University Avenue, Qatar 4 Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Bliss Street, Lebanon
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 August 2011 / Revised: 25 August 2011 / Accepted: 29 August 2011 / Published: 8 September 2011
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Abstract

The aim of this review was to highlight the current situation of nutrition-related diseases in the Arab countries, and factors associated with prevalence of these diseases. PubMed and Google Scholar were searched for data relating to such nutrition-related diseases published between January 1990 and May 2011. The picture of nutritional status in the Arab countries has changed drastically over the past 30 years as a result of changes in the social and economic situation. Two contrasting nutrition-related diseases exist, those associated with inadequate intake of nutrients and unhealthy dietary habits such as growth retardation among young children and micronutrient deficiencies; and those associated with changes in lifestyle such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity (diet-related non-communicable diseases). Factors contributing to nutritional problems vary from country to country, depending on socio-economic status. In general, unsound dietary habits, poor sanitation, poverty, ignorance and lack of access to safe water and health services are mainly responsible for under-nutrition. Changes in lifestyle and dietary habits as well as inactivity are associated with the occurrence of diet-related non-communicable diseases. Programs to prevent and control nutrition-related diseases are insufficient and ineffective, due mainly to a focus on curative care at the expense of preventive health care services, lack of epidemiological studies, lack of nutritional surveillance, inadequate nutrition information and lack of assessment of the cost-effectiveness of nutrition intervention programs.
Keywords: Arab countries; nutrition problems; undernutrition; diet-related chronic non-communicable disease Arab countries; nutrition problems; undernutrition; diet-related chronic non-communicable disease
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Musaiger, A.O.; Hassan, A.S.; Obeid, O. The Paradox of Nutrition-Related Diseases in the Arab Countries: The Need for Action. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8, 3637-3671.

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