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August 16th, 2017

Supermarket shopping and nutritional outcomes: A panel data analysis for urban Kenya

Published by World Development journal,

This article (PDF) in the journal World Development 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. Income growth and urbanization are factors that contribute to these changes. Modernizing food retail environments may also play a certain role. For instance, the rapid spread of supermarkets in many developing countries could affect consumer food choices and thus nutritional outcomes. A few existing studies have analyzed related linkages with cross-sectional survey data. This study adds to this literature by using panel data from households and individuals in urban Kenya. Results show that shopping in supermarkets significantly increases body mass index (BMI). Shopping in supermarkets contributes to higher consumption of processed and highly processed foods and lower consumption of unprocessed staples and fresh fruits and vegetables. These shifts toward processed and highly processed foods lead to less healthy diets, with higher sugar, fat, and salt contents, and probably lower amounts of micronutrients and dietary fibers. These results confirm that the retail environment affects people’s food choices and nutrition. However, the effects depend on the types of foods offered. Rather than thwarting modernization in the retail sector, policies that incentivize the sale of more healthy foods—such as fruits and vegetables—in supermarkets may be more promising to promote desirable nutritional outcomes.

Curated from sciencedirect.com