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Factors influencing dietary behaviours in urban food environments in Africa: a systematic mapping review

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posted on 18.02.2020, 11:31 by Hibbah Osei-Kwasi, Aarti Mohindra, Andrew Booth, Amos Laar, Milka Wanjohi, Fiona Graham, Rebecca PradeillesRebecca Pradeilles, Emmanuel Cohen, Michelle Holdsworth
Objective: To identify factors influencing dietary behaviours in urban food environments in Africa and identify areas for future research.
Design: We systematically reviewed published/grey literature (Protocol CRD4201706893). Findings were compiled into a map using a socio-ecological model on four environmental levels: individual, social, physical and macro.
Setting: Urban food environments in Africa.
Participants: Studies involving adolescents and adults (11-70 years, male/female).
Results: Thirty-nine studies were included (6 adolescent; 15 adolescent/adult combined; 18 adult). Quantitative methods were most common (28 quantitative; 9 qualitative; 2 mixed methods). Studies were from 15 African countries. Seventy-seven factors influencing dietary behaviours were identified, with two-thirds at the individual level (45/77). Factors in the social (11/77), physical (12/77) and macro (9/77) environments were investigated less. Individual level factors that specifically emerged for adolescents included self-esteem, body satisfaction, dieting, spoken language, school attendance, gender, body composition, pubertal development, BMI and fat mass. Studies involving adolescents investigated social environment level factors more, e.g. sharing food with friends. The physical food environment was more commonly explored in adults e.g. convenience/availability of food. Macro-level factors associated with dietary behaviours were: food/drink advertising, religion and food prices. Factors associated with dietary behaviour were broadly similar for men and women.
Conclusions: The dominance of studies exploring individual-level factors suggests a need for research to explore how social, physical and macro-level environments drive dietary behaviours of adolescents and adults in urban Africa. More studies are needed for adolescents and men, and studies widening the geographical scope to encompass all African countries.


Global Challenges Research Fund Foundation Award led by the MRC, and supported by AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC and NERC, with the aim of improving the health and prosperity of low and middle-income countries. The TACLED (Transitions in African Cities Leveraging Evidence for Diet-related non communicable diseases) project code is: MR/P025153/1.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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Public Health Nutrition








Cambridge University Press (CUP)


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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Dr Rebecca Pradeilles. Deposit date: 14 February 2020