RECAP - Context-Specific Interventions for Nutrition-Related Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention in East Africa

Last updated on 3-2-2021 by Hanne Reyners
April 1, 2020
March 31, 2023

Financial Source

International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Service(s) working on this project

Sciensano's project investigator(s):

In short

Available evidence shows that fiscal policies and regulatory measures to restrict unhealthy food yield substantial and cost-effective health gains in low and middle income countries (LMICs). But there are significant challenges associated with the adoption and implementation of such policies. We aim to identify concrete context-relevant priority actions that promote healthy food consumption patterns and practices and facilitate knowledge translation pathways. This to prevent nutrition-related NCDs (NR-NCDs) in three East African countries. The project identifies specific tailored policy and practice interventions to promote healthy food environments and evidence to support the adoption of these interventions, leading to strengthened NR-NCD prevention in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

Project summary

Overweight and obesity has tripled in adults and doubled among children and adolescents in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This increases risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and is largely driven by unhealthy diets resulting from nutrition transition and promotion of unhealthy foods, especially to children. Available evidence shows that fiscal policies and regulatory measures to restrict unhealthy food yield substantial and cost-effective health gains in LMICs. But there are significant challenges associated with the adoption and implementation of such policies. We aim to identify concrete context-relevant priority actions that promote healthy food consumption patterns and practices and facilitate knowledge translation pathways, to prevent nutrition-related NCDs (NR-NCDs) in three East African countries. 

This three-year project is delivered through four interlinked work packages (WPs): 

  • assess gaps in public food policies and government actions, and identify barriers and facilitators to their implementation (WP1); 
  • assess the frequency and nature of unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children, the power of promotions on television, in stores, school sports events and in and around schools (WP2); 
  • estimate the cost of inaction for selected policies (WP3); 
  • and assess the legal and administrative feasibility of adopting and implementing context-specific interventions (WP4) using adapted international data collection methods. 

This collaborative project draws on expertise from seven institutions and builds capacity of in-country researchers to adapt data collection and economic analysis methods to their context. The project identifies specific tailored policy and practice interventions to promote healthy food environments and evidence to support the adoption of these interventions, leading to strengthened NR-NCD prevention in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. Such interventions have whole-of-community impacts. The academic community benefits from robust methods to inform further studies. Policy makers can potentially use evidence generated to develop, implement and monitor interventions. 


Specific objectives

  1. Establish gaps in existing evidence, related to the development and implementation of public policies and government actions on internationally recommended interventions, to promote healthy diets in Tanzania and Uganda by adapting methods used in Kenya
  2. Identify barriers and facilitators to development and implementation of food environment related policies and develop tools for monitoring and evaluation of local food environments in the three East African countries
  3. Assess the frequency and nature of unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children, the power of promotions (persuasive power of techniques used in promotional communications) on television, in stores, sports events and around schools in Kenya
  4. Estimate the cost of inaction for selected policies –and the economic burden of particular NR-NCDs in each country household systems
  5. Use policy review, and legal and administrative feasibility assessments, to design context-specific interventions.

Associated Health Topics

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