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Perceived environmental factors associated with obesity in Libyan men and womenBackground: There is a lack of research pertaining to the links between built environment attributes and obesity in adults in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. In the Libyan context, no previous studies have been conducted to investigate this relationship. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine associations between perceived neighbourhood built environmental attributes and obesity among Libyan men and women. The prevalence of overweight and obesity was also assessed. Methods: A cross-sectional study design was used for the population-based survey in Benghazi, Libya. A multi-stage cluster sampling technique was used to select Libyan adults from the Benghazi electoral register. The Physical Activity Neighbourhood Environment Scale (PANES) was used to measure participants’ perception of neighbourhood environmental factors. Using the Tanita BC-601 Segmental Body Composition Monitor and a portable stadiometer, anthropometric measurements were taken at a mutually agreeable place by qualified nurses. Results: Four hundred and one Libyan adults were recruited (78% response rate). Participants were aged 20–65 years, 63% were female, and all had lived in Benghazi for over 10 years. The prevalence of obesity and overweight was 42.4% and 32.9% respectively. A significant association was found between BMI and 6 neighbourhood environment attributes, specifically: street connectivity, unsafe environment and committing crimes at night, and neighbourhood aesthetics. For men only, these were: access to public transport, access to recreational facilities, and unsafe environment and committing crimes during the day. The attribute ‘residential density zones’ was only significant for women. Conclusions: The study suggests that Libyan people are at risk of living in neighbourhoods with unsupportive environmental features of physical activity, which are likely to promote obesity of both genders. The findings of this study could inform Libyan health policies about interventions in the obesogenic environments that might slow the obesity epidemic and contain the public health crisis. This study suggests that further research is needed, within the Libyan context, to explore the impact of the neighbourhood environment attributes on contributing to increased obesity.
Prevalence of overweight and obesity among Libyan men and womenLibya is following the trend observed in developing countries of steadily becoming more obese, such that obesity in Libya has reached epidemic proportions in the twenty-first century. The prevalence of obesity in Libya has more than doubled in the last three decades, with the numbers of overweight and obese adults being continuing to grow. Therefore, this study aimed to estimate and describe the prevalence of overweight and obesity among Libyan men and women. A cross-sectional survey was conducted to examine the prevalence of overweight and obesity among the Libyan population. A multistage sampling technique was employed to select 401 Libyan adults randomly from the Benghazi electoral register. Qualified nurses were allocated to take anthropometric measurements (including visceral fat and Body Mass Index (BMI)) from participants using the Segmental Body Composition Analyser and a portable Stadiometer. The response rate achieved in this cross-sectional study was 78%. Four hundred and one Libyan adult, aged 20-65 years, participated; 253 were female (63%). The prevalence of obesity, overweight, and normal weight among Libyan adults was 42.4%, 32.9%, and 24.7%, respectively. The results also revealed that approximately 75.3% of Libyan adults were overweight and obese, and the prevalence of overweight and obesity in women was significantly higher than that in men (the prevalence of overweight was 33.2% in women compared to 32.4% in men, while the prevalence of obesity was 47.4% in women compared to 33.8% in men, respectively). The findings of this study confirmed that obesity and overweight are the fastest growing issues and have become one of the most serious public health challenges confronting the Libyan authorities. As the obesity epidemic in Libya continues to escalate, with a complete absence of prevention interventions to reduce obesity, more research is desperately needed to follow the trend of gender difference in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among Libyans adults across the Libyan state to improve the effective interventions for preventing obesity.
Understanding the risk and protective factors associated with obesity amongst Libyan adults - a qualitative studyBACKGROUND: There are a range of multifaceted behavioural and societal factors that combine to contribute to the causes of obesity. However, it is not yet known how particularly countries' cultural norms are contributing to the global obesity epidemic. Despite obesity reaching epidemic proportions in Libya, since the discovery of oil in 1959, there is a lack of information about obesity in Libyan adults. This study sought to explore the views of key informants about the risk and protective factors associated with obesity among Libyan men and women. METHODS: A series of qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with Libyan healthcare professionals and community leaders. RESULTS: Eleven main themes (risk and protective factors) were identified, specifically: socio-demographic and biological factors, socioeconomic status, unhealthy eating behaviours, knowledge about obesity, social-cultural influences, Libya's healthcare facilities, physical activity and the effect of the neighbourhood environment, sedentary behaviour, Libyan food-subsidy policy, and suggestions for preventing and controlling obesity. CONCLUSIONS: Key recommendations are that an electronic health information system needs to be implemented and awareness about obesity and its causes and consequences needs to be raised among the public in order to dispel the many myths and misconceptions held by Libyans about obesity. The current political instability within Libya is contributing to a less-active lifestyle for the population due to security concerns and the impact of curfews. Our findings have implications for Libyan health policy and highlight the urgent need for action towards mitigating against the obesity epidemic in Libya.