Prevalence and Risk Factors Associated With Nutrition-Related Noncommunicable Diseases in the Eastern Mediterranean Region
Abstract: This paper reviews the current situation concerning nutrition-related noncommunicable diseases (N-NCDs) and the risk factors associated with these diseases in the Eastern Mediterranean region (EMR). A systematic literature review of studies and reports published between January 1, 1990 and September 15, 2011 was conducted using the PubMed and Google Scholar databases. Cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, cancer, and osteoporosis have become the main causes of morbidity and mortality, especially with progressive aging of the population. The estimated mortality rate due to cardiovascular disease and diabetes ranged from 179.8 to 765.2 per 100,000 population, with the highest rates in poor countries. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was very high, ranging from 19% to 45%. The prevalence of overweight and obesity (body mass index ≥25 kg/m(2)) has reached an alarming level in most countries of the region, ranging from 25% to 82%, with a higher prevalence among women. The estimated mortality rate for cancer ranged from 61.9 to 151 per 100,000 population. Osteoporosis has become a critical problem, particularly among women. Several risk factors may be contributing to the high prevalence of N-NCDs in EMR, including nutrition transition, low intake of fruit and vegetables, demographic transition, urbanization, physical inactivity, hypertension, tobacco smoking, stunting of growth of preschool children, and lack of nutrition and health awareness. Intervention programs to prevent and control N-NCDs are urgently needed, with special focus on promotion of healthy eating and physical activity.