Metabolic health in the Middle East and north Africa
Summary The Middle East and north Africa are home to different populations with widely varying cultures, histories, and socioeconomic settings. Hence, their health status, health management, and access to appropriate health care differ accordingly. In this Review, we examine data on the historical and prospective status of metabolic diseases in this region including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Women in the Middle East and north Africa have the highest risk of metabolic diseases of all women globally, whereas men rank second of all men in this respect. Metabolic risk factors are responsible for more than 300 deaths per 100 000 individuals in this region, compared with a global mean of fewer than 250. Physical inactivity, especially in women, and an unhealthy diet (ie, low consumption of whole grains, nuts, and seafoods) stand out. More than one in every three women are obese in most countries of the region. Prevention programmes have not fully been achieved in most of these countries and the projected future is not optimistic. Comprehensive surveillance and monitoring of metabolic diseases, robust multisectoral systems that support primordial and primary preventions, continuous education of health-care providers, as well as collaboration between countries for joint projects in this region are urgently needed to overcome the paucity of data and to improve the metabolic health status of inhabitants in the Middle East and north Africa.