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Strengthening evidence to improve sexual and reproductive health in the context of rising obesity trends in the MENA region.

Project ID
Total Funding
CAD 946,300.00
IDRC Officer
Nafissatou Diop
Project Status
36 months

Programs and partnerships

Lead institution(s)

Project leader:
Fadi EL-Jardali


Obesity is a global public health epidemic that is rapidly increasing in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.Read more

Obesity is a global public health epidemic that is rapidly increasing in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Despite diversity within and among countries in the region, common factors such as sedentary lifestyles, changes in dietary habits, socio-economic status and a range of cultural and gender norms contribute to women suffering disproportionately higher rates of obesity. This health crisis poses significant risks to women's well-being, particularly their sexual and reproductive health outcomes. Maternal obesity has been linked to complications during pregnancy and delivery, infertility and poor postnatal mental health outcomes. There is limited evidence on how health systems, health policies and health programs can address the root drivers of obesity among women in the MENA region toward providing the necessary preventative and curative support in a culturally sensitive and gender-responsive way.

This multi-country project aims to transform the national and regional discourses around obesity and women's health. Through evidence-based practices and impact evaluations, the project will encourage the adoption of well-informed policies that effectively address obesity-related challenges affecting women’s sexual and reproductive health and well-being. The overall expected outcome of the project focuses on elevating the importance of addressing rising trends of obesity and its negative effects on women's sexual and reproductive health on the policy agenda. Engaging with key stakeholders in the local communities, civil society, government authorities, health system actors, researchers, private sector entities, UN agencies and relevant international institutions underpins the approach to be used throughout the project’s implementation.