Project Summary

Mapping the factors in the social and physical food environments that drive consumption of energy dense nutrient-poor (EDNP) foods and beverages, to identify interventions targeting women and adolescent girls throughout the reproductive life course.

Africa is currently experiencing rapid change partly driven by increasing migration of individuals to cities. Dietary habits are also changing with increasing consumption of unhealthy foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients.

Such changes have resulted in increasing levels of obesity in cities, with rates higher for women. Policy responses have been limited in success so far, and are mostly influenced by experiences in higher income countries which are less relevant to African cities. There is also less understanding of the factors that drive food consumption in Africa, particularly the role that people’s social networks play (e.g. family or peer groups) and the neighbourhoods that individuals live in (e.g. access to fast food outlets). There is a need for stronger evidence that accounts for the environments that people live in to inform strategies to promote healthier food consumption in African cities.

Our objectives are:

  1. To identify how social (family, friends, peers, role modelling, social support, social norms) and physical (home, work, school, neighborhoods, food outlets) environments drive consumption of EDNP foods and beverages throughout the life course;
  2. To identify, prioritize and encourage scaling up of context-relevant gender interventions to reduce consumption of EDNP foods and beverages throughout the reproductive life course.


This research has been funded by the Drivers of Food Choice (DFC) Competitive Grants Programs, which is funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and managed by the University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, USA.