Fruit and vegetable intake is far below the recommended 400 g/day levels worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where over 80% consume lower amounts (Miller et al., 2016). This increases the risk of malnutrition and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Global Burden of Disease Collaborators, 2017). Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, are in line with these low consumption rates, particularly for fruits with 62 g/capita/day (Frank et al., 2019). Among the barriers to fruit and vegetable intake in LMICs are low availability and access (Nijhuis and Brouwer, 2020). Moreover, what, when and why people choose to eat is influenced by a magnitude of factors, ranging from biological to social and cultural (Shepherd, 2005). Hence, it requires a broad understanding of how individuals are embedded in their environments (Story et al., 2008).
Research on food environments, described as the interface where people interact with the wider food system to acquire and consume foods is getting increasing attention in LMICs (Turner et al. 2020).  Up to now, evidence about how people interact with the social and physical food environment to make food choices is, however, limited in Africa (Holdsworth and Landais, 2019).

The thesis aims to contribute to filling this knowledge gap. It aims to identify factors that impact fruit choice and consumption and assess how they vary among different food environments in Kenya. Given the key role of women in providing foods and being responsible for dietary choices within households, women are the main target group of the research (Inglis et al., 2005; Gissing et al., 2017).

Conceptual frameworks built on socio-ecological theory and suited to analyse food environments in low and middle-income countries as defined by Turner et al. 2018  and Downs et al. 2020 will be applied. A mixed-method approach, including surveys, focus group discussions and qualitative interviews will be conducted to characterize food environments, analyse how women perceive their environment and identify barriers and facilitators towards fruit choices and intake.

The doctoral project aims to contribute new insights to inform the design of interventions to increasee fruit consumption and stimulate a food environment conducive to better food choices. The project is embedded in the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and will contribute to the Transformative Partnership Platform (TPP)-Nutri-scapes.


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Frank, S.M. et al. (2019): Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables Among Individuals 15 Years and Older in 28 Low- and Middle-Income Countries. The Journal of Nutrition. 149 (7):1252–1259.

Gissing, S.C., Pradeilles, R., Osei-Kwasi, H.A., Cohen, E., Holdsworth, M. (2017): Drivers of dietary behaviours in women living in urban Africa: A systematic mapping review. Public Health Nutrition, 20 (12): 2104-2113.

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Turner, C., Kalamatianou, S., Drewnowski, A., Kulkarni, B., Kinra, S., Kadiyala, S. (2020): Food Environment Research in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Scoping Review. Advances in Nutrition, 11 (2): 387-397.