INTRODUCTORY OBSERVATIONS: THE REGION, NUTRITION, AND HEALTH
Geography and culture only loosely define the Middle East and there are differing opinions as to which countries should be included in the region. International agencies also use the terms“Near East,”“Eastern Mediterranean,”and“West Asia and North Africa”each with a somewhat different definition. The region has shown a greater than average increase in food availability in recent years and projections for 2010 show these trends progressing. Significant differences, however, exist between the individual countries since they range from some of the poorest in the world to some of the richest. As a consequence the nutritional and health conditions found, vary from those associated with poverty to those associated with affluence. Nutritionally related chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and osteo-arthritis are now major contributors to morbidity and mortality in the industrialized world. However, in many countries of the Middle East, micronutrient malnutrition, especially iron, iodine, and vitamin A deficiencies as well as general child undernutrition coexist with the newer diet related chronic diseases. The papers in this volume, originating from Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria reflect our desire to highlight these twin sets of problems in the region.
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