Low and middle income countries of the Arab region are undergoing a rapid nutrition transition with increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among young and adult populations, accompanied by a rise in diet-related non communicable diseases (NCDs). Although children’s food choices and dietary behaviours are early risk factors for the development of NCDs, research on factors that influence these behaviours remains scant in the region. School and neighbourhood environments mediate the effect of societal forces on children’s diets. Little is known however, about the drivers of children’s food choices within these environments, and their potential to be used as levers for intervention.
With the aim to better understand the influences of these drivers on children’s dietary behaviour, and in order to be able to develop evidence-based policies aiming to reduce the risk of NCDs in the Arab region, the Center for Research on Population and Health (CRPH) at the American University of Beirut (AUB)’ Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) Graduate Public Health Program, in partnership with the Tunisian “Institut National de Nutrition et de Technologie Alimentaire” (INNTA) is launching a new research project on “School and community drivers of child diets in Arab cities”.
Funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), “this project aims to inform context-specific interventions targeting childhood overweight in the urban settings of Greater Beirut and Greater Tunis, and ultimately to foster the development of food environments that enable healthy eating among children and their families”, stated CRPH Director and principal investigator of the study Dr. Hala Ghattas.