Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a major global health problem. The objective of the study was to estimate the prevalence of common risk factors for NCDs in Lebanon, both among the Lebanese population and Syrian refugees, aged 18-69 years, residing in communities.
Two national cross-sectional surveys using a two-stage cluster sampling design were conducted among the Lebanese and Syrian refugee adults.
We used the World Health Organization (WHO) STEPwise approach through questionnaire assessment and physical and biochemical measurements. All reported results were weighted to provide prevalence estimates at the population level.
A total of 1899 Lebanese and 2134 Syrians adults participated in the survey. More than one-third of participants were current smokers at the time of the assessment, and 23% of Lebanese participants were current drinkers (almost all Syrian refugees were lifetime abstainers). Vegetable and fruit consumption was rated moderately low, in 73% and 93% of Lebanese and Syrian refugees, respectively. Many respondents did not meet WHO recommendations on physical activity. More than one-third of participants had raised blood pressure or were on antihypertensive medications. One in 10 participants had either raised blood glucose level or were currently on glycemic control medications. For all risk factors and in both samples, women consistently had lower prevalence of NCD risk factors.
Prevalence of risk factors for NCDs is high in Lebanon, and given the recent rise in population size, the financial and social burden of NCDs will grow dramatically in the next years. The results highlight the need for interventions to address behavioral changes, including reduction in smoking, improvement of dietary habits, optimization of management of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and conducting continuous surveillance to monitor the trends in NCD prevalence, their risk factors, and treatments.
Copyright © 2020 The Royal Society for Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.