Urbanization and lifestyle changes related to non-communicable diseases: An exploration of experiences of urban residents who have relocated from the rural areas to Khayelitsha, an urban township in Cape Town
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The prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes including obesity has increased among the black population over the past few years. The increase in these diseases has been associated with increased urbanization and lifestyle changes. No studies have documented the experiences of people who have migrated to urban areas. Aim: To describe the type of lifestyle changes, reasons for the lifestyle changes and the barriers to adopting a healthy lifestyle among people who have migrated from rural areas to urban areas in the past 5 years and reside in Khayelitsha. Objectives: (1) To identify people who have moved from rural to urban areas in the past 2-5 years; (2) To explore reasons for moving to the city; (3) To explore experiences of respondents on moving to the city; (4) To identify the types of lifestyle changes related to chronic diseases among respondents on arrival to the city; (5) To identify reasons for the lifestyle changes among respondents; (6) To identify coping strategies that have been adopted by respondents; (7) To identify barriers to healthy lifestyle among respondents; (8) To make recommendations for development of appropriate interventions that will enable migrating populations to adjust better to city life. Rural-urban migration (urbanization) was associated with factors such as seeking employment, better life and working opportunities. On arrival in the city migrants face a number of challenges such as inability to secure employment and accommodation. Faced with these challenges, migrants change their lifestyle including buying fatty foods, increasing frequency in food consumption and decreasing in physical activity. In the city factors such as poverty, environment including lack of infrastructure, and lack of knowledge about nutrition, social pressures and family preferences were identified as hindrances to a healthy lifestyle. Conclusion: This study identified various factors that influence the decision to migrate from rural areas. Lifestyle changes in an urban setting are due to socio-economic, environmental and individual factors. Perceived benefits of moving to urban areas can pose challenges to health and this may have negative health-outcomes.