Review article| Volume 57, ISSUE 3, P252-262, September 2015

Arab Adolescents: Health, Gender, and Social Context


      This article reviews the evidence about adolescent health in the Arab world, against the background of social, economic, and political change in the region, and with a particular focus on gender. For the literature review, searches were conducted for relevant articles, and data were drawn from national population- and school-based surveys and from the Global Burden of Disease project. In some parts of the Arab world, adolescents experience a greater burden of ill health due to overweight/obesity, transport injuries, cardiovascular and metabolic conditions, and mental health disorders than those in other regions of the world. Poor diets, insufficient physical activity, tobacco use, road traffic injuries, and exposure to violence are major risk factors. Young men have higher risks of unsafe driving and tobacco use and young women have greater ill-health due to depression. Several features of the social context that affect adolescent health are discussed, including changing life trajectories and gender roles, the mismatch between education and job opportunities, and armed conflict and interpersonal violence. Policy makers need to address risk factors behind noncommunicable disease among adolescents in the Arab region, including tobacco use, unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyles, unsafe driving, and exposure to violence. More broadly, adolescents need economic opportunity, safe communities, and a chance to have a voice in their future.


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      Linked Article

      • Adolescent and Young Adult Health in the Arab Region: Where We Are and What We Must Do
        Journal of Adolescent HealthVol. 57Issue 3
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          Throughout much of the world, the popular impression of the Arab region is of desert, turmoil, instability, and a lack of security. But to those more familiar with the region and its people, the impression is of the fundamental importance and value of family, tradition, generosity, and religion. Although the political upheavals that the region has witnessed in recent years are concerning to all, adolescents and young adults may have the most at stake. The region has a youthful population, with about 20% of the population aged 10–19 years and about 60% aged younger than 25 years [1].
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