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The nutrition transition in Egypt: obesity, undernutrition and the food consumption context

  • Osman M Galal (a1) (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 22 December 2006

To describe changing food consumption patterns in Egypt over the last several decades, current levels of overweight and obesity, and current data on obesity-related morbidity.


Secondary analysis and synthesis of existing data from national-level food consumption surveys, large recent surveys of hypertension and diabetes, and documentation of historical and policy context.


Arab Republic of Egypt.


As selected and described in primary data sources.

Results and conclusions: The nutrition transition in Egypt has occured in the context of abundant dietary energy availability, urbanisation and moderate fat intakes. The prevalence of obesity in adults is very high, particularly among women. The prevalences of diabetes mellitus and of hypertension parallel that of obesity, and both are very high. Little information is available on physical activity, but it is likely that a large proportion of the population is quite sedentary, particularly in the cities. At the same time, rates of early childhood malnutrition remain stubbornly stable and relatively high. Public awareness of the increasing prevalence of obesity and of diet-related chronic disease is increasing, and attention has turned to documenting the problem(s).

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16AS Hafez , SI Salem , TS Cole , OM Galal , A Masoud . Sexual maturation and growth pattern in Egyptian boys. Ann. Hum. Biol. 1981; 8: 461–8.

18WA Herman , MA Ali , RE Aubert , MM Engelgau , SJ Kenny , EW Gunter , Diabetes mellitus in Egypt: risk factors and prevalence. Diabet. Med. 1995; 12: 1126–31.

23LK Khan , GG Harrison , OM Galal , C Ritenbaugh , FM Shaheen , A Kirksey , NW Jerome . Prevalence and functional correlates of obesity in an Egyptian Village. Ecol. Food Nutr. 1996; 34: 311–25.

26AA Al-Nuaim , EJ Bamgboye , KA Al-Rubeaan , Y Al-Mazrou . Overweight and obesity in Saudi Arabian adult population: role of sociodemographic factors. J. Community Health 1997; 22: 211–23.

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Public Health Nutrition
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