Consumption patterns and nutrition

Food consumption patterns

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This Knowledge Portal topic page deals with food consumption patterns and trends. It looks at the factors and actors influencing consumer choice. This may include intra-household and community level dynamics, other socio-cultural factors, economic and market factors, policies, and ecological or geographical factors. The topic page also looks at how food preferences and consumer demand influence the market and the food system as a whole.

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Supermarket shopping and nutritional outcomes: A panel data analysis for urban Kenya
Published by World Development journal,
This article examines the effects of supermarkets on consumer diets and nutrition in Kenya. Rising obesity rates in developing countries are the result of changes in people’s diets and lifestyles. Modernizing food retail environments may also play a certain role. »
Food consumption, nutrient intake, and dietary patterns in Ghanaian migrants in Europe and their compatriots in Ghana
Published by Food & Nutrition Research Journal,
This article aims to describe the dietary behavior among Ghanaian migrants in Europe and their compatriots living in different Ghanaian settings (urban and rural). Contributions of macro-nutrients to the daily energy intake was different across the three study sites. »
Dynamics of food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa
Published by Wageningen Economic Research,
This report investigates the dynamics in the food systems in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The African continent is rapidly urbanizing and has shown significant welfare growth rates in recent years. Food systems in SSA show dynamics as in quite a number of countries in this continent diets change.  »
Whose problem? Fixing our food systems
Published by IDS,
In this blog, Santiago Rapoll argues that consumer action is not enough to change the food system, since while some individual purchasing behavior have had positive effects, these alternative market channels only compose limited market shares. »
What drives diversification of national food supplies?
Published by Global Food Security Journal,
This article sets out to systematically explore what drives the diversification of food supplies (DFS) across countries and regions, and over the course of economic development. A cross-country dataset was constructed and analyzed linking a simple DFS indicator, the share of calories supplied by nonstaple foods, with structural transformation and agroecological indicators. »
Food consumption patterns in light of rising incomes, urbanization and food retail modernization
Published by ProQuest,
This PhD dissertation provides new insight into the nature of the diet transformation that is unfolding in Eastern and Southern Africa, and on some of its drivers and effects. It considers the effects of income and urbanization on the commodity makeup and source of foods in household diets, including processed foods. »
Global trends in dietary micronutrient supplies and estimated prevalence of inadequate intakes
Published by PLOS ONE Journal,
This article characterizes global trends in dietary quality for all countries between 1961 and 2011. This is done by estimating micronutrient density of the food supply, and the prevalence of inadequate intake of 14 micronutrients. Over this 50-year period, Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where dietary micronutrient density has declined, while in most regions it improved. »
The impact of supermarkets on nutrition and nutritional knowledge: A food policy perspective
Published by Springer,
This book chapter provides an analytical and policy perspective on the rapid emergence of supermarkets and their modern supply chains, and the subsequent impact on food security and nutritional well-being. The rapid emergence of supermarkets in low- and middle-income countries plays an essential role in providing food (and nutrients) to consumers. »
Regional overview of food insecurity: Europe and Central Asia
Published by FAO,
This report analyzes a wealth of country data on dietary energy supply, undernourishment indicators and consumption patterns in Europe and Central Asia. The report points to a pattern whereby countries progress from dealing predominantly with undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, to coping with degenerative diseases associated with increased dietary fat, sugar, meat and dairy, and processed foods, linked to overnutrition. Today, 13 percent of the population of the region lives in countries suffering from a "triple burden". »
Guidelines on assessing biodiverse foods in dietary intake surveys
Published by FAO & Bioversity International,
This report provides new scientific guidelines for collecting information on food biodiversity through dietary surveys. The authors argue that information on food consumption goes hand in hand with information on food composition and both are essential building blocks for nutrition science. Rather than debate which element should come first in research, the authors argue that joint efforts are needed to gain a better understanding of consumption and composition of food biodiversity. »
From corn to popcorn? Urbanization and food consumption in Sub-Sahara Africa: Evidence from rural-urban migrants in Tanzania
Published by AAAE,
This paper aims to improve our understanding of the impact of rural-urban transition from a micro-level perspective, using evidence from Tanzania. This study will be the first to assess the impact of urbanization on food consumption through comparing individuals’ food consumption patterns before and after they have migrated from rural to urban areas. »
West African food systems and changing consumer demands
Published by FAO. OECD,
This publication elaborates on the rapidly changing consumer demands in West Africa and the opportunities and constrains for the West African food system related to this. Fueled by a burgeoning population, urbanization and income growth, West African food demand is transforming fast. »
Why behavioral economics matters to global food policy
Published by Global Food Security,
This article elaborates on how including behavioral economics can influence consumer choices. While the article is focused on the developed world, the authors argue that the lessons learned might be directly applicable to developing countries. Traditional approaches have treated food consumers as if they were making deliberate and calculated food decisions, leading to policies that provide more detailed health information, pricing incentives and direct prohibitions. However, this is often not the case. »
Oil crops, aquaculture, and the rising role of demand: A fresh perspective on food security
Published by Global Food Security,
This article explores how economic growth, income distribution, and trade have influenced patterns of food demand and food security since 1990. It focuses on two of the most rapidly expanding segments of the world food economy: tropical oil crops and aquaculture. Aquaculture, palm oil and soy production have risen by 5–7% annually since 1990. The global economy has also experienced remarkable growth during the past twenty-five years. The related rising incomes have fueled demand for animal protein and processed foods. »
Metrics for sustainable healthy diets: why, what how?
Published by FCRN & the Food Foundation,
This report by the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) and the Food Foundation is based on a meeting, held November 2016, on the topic of metrics for sustainable healthy diets for the food industry. While a range of sustainability metrics for this industry already exists, none comprehensively measure the progress (or otherwise) that food companies are taking to foster a public shift towards more sustainable and healthy eating patterns. »
The nutrition transition and agricultural transformation: a Preston curve approach
Published by Agricultural Economics,
This article tests whether new technologies and institutions have brought structural shifts in the relationship between economic development to diet-related disorders (the nutrition transition), food production and distribution (agricultural transformation) and governments' agricultural price policies that alter the relative cost of food (the development paradox). It combines food availability and dietary intake data and asks how future dietary patterns might be steered toward healthier outcomes as national incomes grow. »
Food systems and diets: Facing the challenges of the 21st century
Published by Global Panel,
This report generates a new understanding of diets and food systems, and how they could change by 2030. The analysis shows that if current trends continue, by 2030 nearly half of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese, up from one third today. The poorest countries are not immune to these trends. »
Shifting food consumption to mitigate climate change is critical to fulfilling the Paris Agreement, but how?
Published by CCAFS-GGIAR,
This info note assessment the available measures to mitigate climate change through shifting food consumption and reveals some opportunities, particularly through linking with public health and other policy areas. Reducing emissions by changing consumption of foods with large greenhouse gas emissions could have a major impact on climate change. Yet, past efforts to change diets through public policy have had mixed results, suggesting that recent estimates of technical mitigation potential likely exceed feasible reductions in emissions. »
Precarious lives: food, work and care after the global food crisis
Published by IDS & Oxfam,
The longitudinal study synthesized in this report is the result of a 4-year collaboration between IDS, Oxfam and research partners. The research was carried out between 2012 and 2015 and involved annual visits to communities in 23 rural, urban and peri-urban sites, along with commissioned reviews of national-level prices and policies over the period. The social, economic and political adjustments made by people in developing countries in the wake of the global food crisis are the focus of this report. »
Market access and farm household dietary diversity
Published by Rural21,
In this article, country comparisons reveal that dietary diversity is higher in situations with more commercialized agriculture than in subsistence-oriented settings. This suggests that specialization and low on-farm production diversity are not necessarily associated with lower dietary diversity, when diverse types of foods can be purchased from the market. The results show that production diversity has a positive but marginal effect on dietary diversity. »
Plates, pyramids and planet – Developments in national healthy and sustainable dietary guidelines: a state of play assessment
Published by FCRN & FAO,
This report was published jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) and evaluates government-issued food-based dietary guidelines from across the globe, looking in particular at whether they make links to environmental sustainability as well as personal health. The report highlights instances of forward thinking governments who are taking the lead in developing integrated guidance; examines what these guidelines say; identifies common messages; and considers whether and how their approaches could be replicated elsewhere. »
Reducing anemia prevalence in Afghanistan: Socioeconomic correlates and the particular role of agricultural assets
Published by PLoSONE,
This article examines the socio-economic correlates of anemia in women and, potential sources of iron in household diets in Afghanistan. It delves into the agriculture-nutrition linkages and tries to understand these in the context of Afghanistan and related to iron-deficiency anemia. The authors found that ownership of agricultural assets (particularly livestock) and their use in food production has a role in alleviating anemia, especially when local markets are inadequate. »
Contribution of forest foods to dietary intake and their association with household food insecurity: A cross-sectional study in women from rural Cameroon
Published by Public Health Nutrition,
This article indicates that forest foods can contribute significantly to achieving nutrition and food security in the forest-dependent communities. Despite the under-utilization and neglect of forest foods, studies indicate that these foods can enrich household diets, providing essential nutrients and bioactive compounds that can prevent undernutrition and coronary diseases, and provide sources of income for millions of people... »
Shifting diets for a sustainable food future
Published by World Resource Institute,
This report recommends a dietary shift from animal-based protein to more plant-based protein. People who consume high amounts of meat and dairy could significantly reduce the pressure on the environment from agriculture through shifting to diets with a greater share of plant-based foods. The overall recommendations are that dietary shifts are needed that: 1) reduce overconsumption of calories; 2) reduce overconsumption of protein through reducing consumption of animal-based foods; 3) reduce consumption of beef specifically. »
Global and regional health effects of future food production under climate change
Published by The Lancet,
This report focuses on the wider health impacts of future changes in agricultural production. While much research focuses on questions on food security, less attention has been devoted to assessing the health impacts. In this modelling study, the authors estimate that the health impacts of climate change from changes in dietary and weight related risk factors could be significant, and exceed other climate-related health impacts that have been estimated. »
Eating like there’s no tomorrow: Public awareness of the environmental impact of food and reluctance to eat less meat as part of a sustainable diet
Published by Appetite Journal,
This article investigates the public perspectives and awareness about the environmental impacts of food and of eating less meat. It thereby considers the cultural and social values associated with eating meat. While reducing meat consumption is central to many of the scientific debates on healthy and sustainable diets, the social and cultural values related to meat consumption are often not evaluated. »
Limiting livestock production to pasture and by-products in a search for sustainable diets
Published by Food Policy,
This article shows a new method to design 'fair' diets (not using more than globally available arable land per capita) and to assess the sustainability of such diets. The diets were based on the principle of ‘ecological leftovers’ for livestock production, i.e. raising livestock on pasture and by-products not suitable for or wanted by humans. The method was applied to Sweden using three different scenarios for livestock production, all taking the starting point that semi-natural pastures should be grazed by ruminants for reasons of biodiversity conservation. »
Creating a new menu for food security policy: Linking urbanisation and rural development
Published by IIED,
This report elaborates on the changing patterns of food consumption and production between rural and urban areas and its impacts on food security. In the past, rural areas produced food primarily for cities. Urban residents often consumed more than they needed, while the poorest rural smallholders often went hungry. Today, rural areas still produce, but they are also consumers and poor city dwellers now also suffer from hunger. »
Livestock intensification and the influence of dietary change: A calorie-based assessment of competition for crop production
Published by Science of the Total Environment,
This article employs a calorie-based approach to determine which feed calories do compete with human consumption for crop use and considers to what extent alternative scenarios could have reduced this competition between food and feed. Animal production exerts significant demands on land, water and food resources. However, demand for animal source foods has more than tripled over the past 50 years and the livestock sector has transitioned towards more intensive and concentrated production systems. »
Changing climate, changing diets: Pathways to lower meat consumption
Published by Chatham House,
The authors of this report argue that governments must lead in shifting attitudes and behaviors of consumers to lower meat consumption. According to the report, reduction in global meat consumption is key to mitigating climate change and keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius. Global meat consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are at all-time highs. The livestock sector accounts for 15 percent of all emissions, the equivalent to the emissions of all vehicles worldwide. »
Sub-Saharan Africa’s significant changes in food consumption patterns
Published by AFD,
This report elaborates on the importance of food markets for food consumption in African cities and rural areas. It argues that food systems in West Africa are rapidly changing and that, contrary to popular belief, the percentage of subsistence farming for food consumption in rural areas is also declining. Therefore, market supply is becoming the main source for food consumption and rural as well as urban household tend to become more vulnerable to fluctuation in food prices on these markets, which impacts their food security. »
Dairy intensification, mothers and children: an exploration of infant and young child feeding practices among rural dairy farmers in Kenya
Published by Maternal & Child Nutrition,
This article elaborates on the impacts of dairy intensification to human nutrition and household food security. While dairy intensification could improve human nutrition and food security due to higher incomes for the farmers, it could as have negative impacts. This is related to the increasing workload of mothers which could have negative effects on infant and young child feeding (IYCF), since mothers could experience more stress, have less time for feeding and have specific beliefs about the timing and appropriate types of complementary foods. »
Increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the implications for food security
Published by PNAS,
This article (PDF) in PNAS by a group of researchers provides evidence of change in the relative importance of different crop plants in national food supplies worldwide over the past 50 years. Trends in the richness, abundance, and composition of crop species in national food supplies worldwide were assessed. The study shows that over the... »
Trends and determinants of food consumption patterns in West Africa
Published by Me-Nsope, Nathalie Mongue,
This dissertation by Me-Nsope, Nathalie Mongue examines food consumption patterns in the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS). The study provides detailed information on food demand parameters, which are critical to improving policymakers' ability to make sound food policy decisions. »
Future diets: obesity rising to alarming levels around the world
Published by ODI,
This report (PDF) by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), highlights dramatic increases in the numbers of overweight or obese people in the past 30 years. Previously considered a problem in richer countries, the biggest rises are in middle income countries and the developing world. »
What we eat: Changing patterns of food consumption around the world
Published by Universidad del Pacífico,
This paper (PDF) from the Universidad del Pacífico explores changes in the level and composition of per capita food consumption across the world. The world's food output has more than trebled since 1961 whilst population only doubled, causing a marked increase in per capita food supply. Besides these overall increases in food consumption, the composition of the average diet also changed. »
Food Outlook 2014 – Biannual Report on Global Food Markets
Published by FAO,
The FAO Food Outlook is a biannual publication (May/June and November/December) focusing on developments affecting global food and feed markets. This report (PDF) from October 2014 highlights that food markets are more stable and prices for most agricultural commodities are sharply lower than they have been in recent years. »
Rising incomes, changing tastes: How Africa, India, and China will reshape the global food and agriculture landscape
Published by Morningstar,
Morningstar analysts published a report (PDF) that covers aspects of the emerging markets' diet as an important growth driver for consumption– from trends in meat and dairy consumption, to those in beer and processed food. The focus of the paper is on China, India, Brazil, Southeast Asia (mainly Indonesia), and sub-Saharan Africa. By use of global and country-level data, links between diets and incomes and the important roles of urbanization, culture, religion, geography and biology are examined. »
Trend: New research shows increasing appetite for sustainable seafood
Published by MSC,
Research into seafood buying behaviour around the world shows that consumers are increasingly looking for fish products from a sustainable source, and that ecolabels give credibility to these claims. For this research, over 9,000 regular seafood buyers from 15 countries across Europe, Asia, Australia and North America were questioned. »
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