Is the burka making Muslim women fat? All women know the frustration of waking up post-pizza party feeling a bit plump and hesitant to put on that cute tiny skirt – at which point hiding behind vast quantities of fabric may seem enticing. But is it healthy?

While some women are able to hide the bloat of a large meal behind a burka, the garment and the traditions surrounding it can also discourage exercise both psychologically and practically.

The "Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures: Family, body, sexuality and health" authored by Suad Joseph and Afsaneh Najmabad and published in 2006 notes that obesity, especially among women, has become an "epidemic" in many Arab countries. "High obesity prevalence among women may be partially due to cultural prohibitions against physical activity," Joseph and Najmabad write.

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