Perceived Environmental Factors Associated with Obesity in Libyan Men and Women



Lemamsha H, Papadopoulos C, Randhawa G.


Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Feb 9;15(2):301. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15020301.


Background: There is a lack of research pertaining to the links between built environment attributes and obesity in adults in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. In the Libyan context, no previous studies have been conducted to investigate this relationship. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine associations between perceived neighbourhood built environmental attributes and obesity among Libyan men and women. The prevalence of overweight and obesity was also assessed. Methods: A cross-sectional study design was used for the population-based survey in Benghazi, Libya. A multi-stage cluster sampling technique was used to select Libyan adults from the Benghazi electoral register. The Physical Activity Neighbourhood Environment Scale (PANES) was used to measure participants’ perception of neighbourhood environmental factors. Using the Tanita BC-601 Segmental Body Composition Monitor and a portable stadiometer, anthropometric measurements were taken at a mutually agreeable place by qualified nurses. Results: Four hundred and one Libyan adults were recruited (78% response rate). Participants were aged 20-65 years, 63% were female, and all had lived in Benghazi for over 10 years. The prevalence of obesity and overweight was 42.4% and 32.9% respectively. A significant association was found between BMI and 6 neighbourhood environment attributes, specifically: street connectivity, unsafe environment and committing crimes at night, and neighbourhood aesthetics. For men only, these were: access to public transport, access to recreational facilities, and unsafe environment and committing crimes during the day. The attribute ‘residential density zones’ was only significant for women. Conclusions: The study suggests that Libyan people are at risk of living in neighbourhoods with unsupportive environmental features of physical activity, which are likely to promote obesity of both genders. The findings of this study could inform Libyan health policies about interventions in the obesogenic environments that might slow the obesity epidemic and contain the public health crisis. This study suggests that further research is needed, within the Libyan context, to explore the impact of the neighbourhood environment attributes on contributing to increased obesity.

Keywords: .

Link/DOI: 10.3390/ijerph15020301