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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Obesity and overweight: prevalence and associated socio demographic factors among mothers in three different areas in the Gaza Strip-Palestine: a cross-sectional study

Rima Rafiq El Kishawi1, Kah Leng Soo2, Yehia Awad Abed1 and Wan Abdul Manan Wan Muda2*

  • * Corresponding author: Wan Abdul Manan W Muda

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health, Al Quds University, Gaza, Gaza Strip, Palestine

2 Department of Nutrition, School of Health Sciences, Health Campus, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan 16150, Malaysia

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BMC Obesity 2014, 1:7  doi:10.1186/2052-9538-1-7

Published: 22 April 2014



The increasing number of obesity and overweight cases in developing countries, especially among women, requires serious attention because of its effects on the health care system and the quality of life. Few studies have been conducted in the Gaza Strip to determine obesity and overweight prevalence and the associated factors. This study aimed at determining the prevalence of obesity and overweight cases in relation to socio-demographic factors among mothers aged 18–50 years in the Gaza Strip-Palestine from June 2012 to September 2012.

Mothers childbearing age 18–50 years (n = 357) were selected using a cross-sectional multistage sampling methodology from three different geographical locations, namely, El Remal urban area, Jabalia refugee camp, and Al Qarrara rural area.

The weight and height of the mothers were measured, and their body mass indexes (BMI) were computed. The mothers were categorized according to the criteria of World Health Organization (WHO) for BMI. The criteria categorize mothers as overweight if they have a BMI 25–29.9 kg/m2 and obese if their BMI ≥ 30.0 kg/m2.


Obesity and overweight rates in urban area, refugee camp, and rural area were found to be 57.0%, 66.8%, and 67.5%, respectively. Moreover, BMI increased with age, adjusted b = 0.39; 95% CI (0.31, 0.48); p = < 0.001, whereas BMI was lower in low-income subjects, adjusted b = −1.59, 95% CI (−2.74,-0.44), p = 0.007. Housewives were more susceptible to obesity than employed woman, adjusted b = −2.76, 95% CI (−5.33,-0.19), p = 0.036. However, the study found no association among BMI level and household size, geographical location, educational level, and family assistance.


The results showed that obesity and being overweight are highly prevalent among women in the Gaza Strip. Independent predictors of obesity in the population studied were increasing age, high income, and housewives. This finding is an important baseline for the monitoring of obesity and overweight cases in the future and highlights the need for community-based programs to combat this problem in Palestine.

Overweight; Obesity; Prevalence; Socio-demographic factors