By Naseera Nanabhai
Commonly, people who make bad food choices believe that they have only themselves to blame. However, the decision-making processes that lead to poor dietary choices are actually multifaceted.
The reasoning for dietary decisions include the impacts of culture, tradition, nutritional knowledge and importance of health. But most significant of all is the impact of economic factors.
A survey by the World Bank revealed that individuals in lower-income regions have reduced access to nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, meat and fish- thereby negatively affecting their health.
Subsequently, for people in poorer countries to eat healthier or avoid bad foods is actually much more tedious than for people in high-income areas.
The nutrition transition is a term commonly used to explain this. It means as countries develop, they expand into more nutritious food but also expand into more unhealthy foods. With unhealthy foods becoming cheaper and more accessible than healthier foods.
On a broader scale, poverty, food insecurity, and poor nutrition are the reasons for an eroding quality of life which limits economic productivity. It creates a cycle that affects generations.
Proposed solutions include trading of nutritional canned foods among countries, to increase access, thus lowering the demand and in turn reducing the price. Also, imposing or increasing taxes on unhealthy foods to bridge the price gap. Calls for, improvements in infrastructure, storage, trade and processing of healthy foods are also possible solutions.