Researching the obesogenic food environment in South Africa and Ghana

Researching the obesogenic food environment, its drivers and potential policy levers in South Africa and Ghana

Project period

15 February 2017 – 14 August 2020

Project Summary

Funded by the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC), this four-year study sought to better understand the changing nature of food acquired and consumed in poor communities in South Africa and Ghana; it also enquired into the drivers of these changes, and the potential policy levers available to improve the healthfulness of the local food environment.

Data collection entailed research on individual and household consumption, mapping and surveying the local food geography in two South African and two Ghanaian research sites, tracing key foods up value chains, and exploring policy options and the political economy of food governance.

The study also explored, and made recommendations on, the policy and regulatory environments in South Africa and Ghana.

A special supplement of Public Health Nutrition is being prepared to share the various findings. At least three other articles have been published – two by Ghanaian colleagues and another on Achieving the right to food for South Africa: Justice, security, sovereignty and the politics of malnutrition published in World Nutrition.

 In collaboration with UWC’s NRF/DST Centre of Excellence (COE) in Food Security, the project also nurtured short stories by participants from Khayelitsha. These have been featured in several places including at the Southern Africa Food Lab workshop in Pretoria  in 2019.

The project was undertaken in partnership with UWC’s NRF/DST COE in Food Security and the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) as well as with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana and in collaboration with the University of Sydney, Australia and the Southern Africa Food Lab at the University of Stellenbosch.


  • International Development Research Centre (Canada)
Partners and Collaborators