“Foodways” Interviews and Neighbourhood Food Environment

Project Description:

The original Modelling the Epidemiological Transition (MET) was designed as a longitudinal study examining the relationships between lifestyle factors including physical activity (PA), diet, socioeconomic status, and obesity, Type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease risk, in a cohort of 2,500 young adults, living in socio-economically disadvantaged settings, located in 5 countries.  The original METS South Africa study sample included 504 adults (25-45 years old), residing in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.  We have also been characterizing the food retail environment in high and low income settings in the Western Cape, with intercept interviews and store audits.  This project aims to provide important context for changes in body weight, body composition, food and physical activity choices, in persons within the study cohort who have experienced either weight changes or remained weight-stable, over the 4-5 years of follow-up.  The overarching context is that over two-thirds of women are either overweight or obese, and over half of households experience food insecurity.  We are conducting ethnographic interviews concerning “foodways” and the Stanford University Prevention Centre Discovery Tool mobile app, to allow participants to document and comment on their home foodways and their neighbourhood food environment.


  • UCT Research Centre for Health through Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Sport
  • DST-NRF Centre for Food Security, University of the Western Cape
  • Human Sciences Research Council


Low-income community in Cape Town metropole.  They are generally middle-aged, and were selected either because they had gained substantial weight over the 5 year follow-up, or had lost weight or remained weight-stable.  We are intending to recruit 32 adults.

Research Question:

This study aims to better understand factors that influence (facilitate and hinder) food choice decisions, and provide meaning and a role for food, in relation to personal health and well-being, as well as food in a social and familial context

Our Voice Impact

"This experience has changed my life.  I see inadequacies everywhere I go as it relates to pedestrian access and safety.  I even stop [at] construction sites to remind them to be considerate of the handicapped in our community.  Thank you all so much for this awareness and empowerment to require change."

~ Pam Jiner, GirlTrek Advocacy Leader, Denver CO