The Nutrition Transition’s Effect in Lebanon: A Qualitative Study Exploring Adolescents’ Perspectives in Both Urban and Rural Areas

Miriam Bou Kheir 1 * , Stephen Fallows 1, Lynne Kennedy 2

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp. 243-263

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Adolescent obesity is a major public health concern, increasingly affecting low and middle-income countries (LMICs) undergoing the nutrition transition. In developed countries, governments had the time to adjust to this rise in the consequent non-communicable diseases (NCDs), whereas the developing world is facing a triple burden of nutrition-related disease simultaneously. However, amidst the nutrition transition, drivers to obesity may differ within the same country especially between the urban and rural areas, depending on the context and environmental factors. In order to unravel how the nutrition transition process unfolds in both urban and rural areas, an exploration of the factors affecting adolescents’ lifestyle and eating behaviors, in the current context was deemed appropriate. Almost similar behaviors were perceived between the urban and rural area, showcasing the impact of the nutrition transition in both areas although different underlying factors were stated. The factors identified in this study were grouped and discussed based on the socio- ecological model (SEM) highlighting the importance of the social and environmental influences on adolescents’ eating behaviors. Given the findings of this study regarding the dramatic changes affecting both urban and rural areas regarding the number of meals consumed away from home, the increase in fast-food consumption and the increase in sedentary lifestyles, new challenges in relation to adolescent obesity prevention in LMICs are created. The creation of supportive local environments, in both urban and rural areas, represents an important avenue where eating behaviors concerns, and thus adolescents’ obesity can be addressed.

Keywords: Adolescence, Low-Middle Income Countries, Obesity, Policies, Public Health