No. 7: Rapid Urbanization and the Nutrition Transition in Southern Africa
The nutrition transition, including the presence of malnutrition and obesity in poor urban populations (the so-called ‘double burden’ of disease), is occurring in Southern Africa in the context of massive rural-urban migration and rapid urbanization. This seemingly contradictory situation poses one of the major threats to public health in the developing world, and impacts the poor – and therefore the most food insecure – to the greatest extent. This paper reviews the state of knowledge about food insecurity and the nutrition transition in the urban areas of Southern Africa drawing on existing studies and new research conducted by AFSUN. The paper lays out an agenda for future research on nutrition environments and discusses the implications of undernutrition and overnutrition for urban policy making on health and food security in the region.