IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The nutrition transition and the human right to adequate food for adolescents in the Cape Town metropolitan area: Implications for nutrition policy

Listed author(s):
  • Stupar, Dijana
  • Eide, Wenche Barth
  • Bourne, Lesley
  • Hendricks, Michael
  • Iversen, Per Ole
  • Wandel, Margareta
Registered author(s):

    Changes in diet and nutrition, along with other lifestyle changes during the last decades, have affected the nutrition-related disease profile in many developing countries. This phenomenon, or process, is known as ‘The Nutrition Transition’. Several studies on adolescents in South Africa have shown that overweight and obesity are increasing, possibly due to this process. The aim of the present study was to extend our knowledge on the nutrition transition and the factors that influence adolescents’ choice of food in South Africa, and to develop policy recommendations that could facilitate the adolescents’ right to adequate food as laid down in the South African Constitutional Bill of Rights. The data were collected through focus groups with 25 female learners (grade 10, 14–16years) from urban public schools in Cape Town and key informant interviews with 10 school staff members. The most important nutritional concerns that emerged from the analyses, included skipping breakfast and the consumption of unhealthy tuck shop food. In terms of the human right to adequate food, these findings reflected lack of availability and access to adequate food within the household, at schools, and in the community. In addition, the study showed that there were no or few opportunities for physical activity for adolescents during and after school hours. Social factors, including social norms and a need to conform to peer group pressure, appeared to affect the behaviour of learners considerably. Traditional foods appeared to have lost their importance, while learners preferred to consume fast foods and to adopt a more westernised diet connected to affluence and social acceptance. Traditional and more “Western” body perceptions co-existed among the study participants. The nutrition transition in South Africa is of a complex nature because of large differences that exist amongst different ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Policy decisions should be based on an understanding of these diverse factors. The media and the food industry should be encouraged to work with government in influencing adolescents to make healthy food choices. Cultural perceptions which may lead to unhealthy choices and lifestyle need to be addressed while at the same time respecting people’s cultural pride and human dignity. It is recommended that human rights principles are used purposively in the future in policy formulations, interventions, evaluation and monitoring.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Food Policy.

    Volume (Year): 37 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 199-206

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:37:y:2012:i:3:p:199-206
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2012.02.007
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:37:y:2012:i:3:p:199-206. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.