Name Policy Paper - Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on dietary and lifestyle behaviors among adolescents in Palestine

Under the auspices of the Palestinian Coalition for Adolescence Health, this policy paper was conducted by Juzoor for Health and Social Development to study the negative effects of COVID-19 and the lockdown on the dietary and lifestyle habits of Palestinian adolescents. This paper also provides recommendations


The Socio-political context & CO VID-19

The longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict and life under occupation are major health determinants in Palestine. The barriers by the occupation are the largest determinant of life of Palestinians and magnify all other barriers. Conditions under occupation, the compromised economy with high unemployment and now the challenges of dealing with COVID-19 exacerbate the difficult living situation and expose Palestinians to further vulnerabilities and stress reflected in various forms. Vulnerable households with already stretched responsibilities are likely to be the hardest hit. The Gazans suffer most as a result of the ongoing imposed blockade on people’s lives and the three wars Israel has waged on the Gaza Strip (GS) since 2007. The Israeli imposed prolonged siege similar to an imposed quarantine has led to grave living conditions, undermining the rights of around two million Palestinians who have been experiencing increased food insecurity and psychological trauma. Families have been internally displaced, forced to live in crowded shelters lacking the most basic needs and unable to meet their basic needs and privacy. They face threats of various communicable diseases, live in general insecurity and fear for life. Amongst various burdens created by the realities of occupation and the lack of political and economic stability affecting all is the increasing double burden of malnutrition: the persistence of under-nutrition, combined with a rapid rise in overweight and obesity .The National Nutrition Surveillance report 2014 showed that the prevalence of overweight and obesity among Palestinian school children was 18.6% and 7.24% respectively . A 2009 study on overweight and obesity among 1,484 children enrolled in UNRWA and government schools in the West Bank (WB) , indicated that the prevalence of stunting was 7% and underweight 3%. Over 12% of students were overweight and 6% obese. Children start school with moderate stunting and underweight, but by the 9th grade, overweight and risk of overweight start to be observed, especially among girls . The current lockdown may be causing irregular eating habits, excessive snacking and lack of physical activity, all associated with high calorie intake and increased risk of obesity. Furthermore, poverty exacerbated by loss of jobs and income under lockdown forces families to rely more on intake of Carbohydrates also associated with increased obesity.


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