Community insights into, and an international perspective on the role food environments and diet play in the self-management of type 2 diabetes mellitus in urban and rural South Africa
Spires, Mark Haydn
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Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and pre-diabetes contribute increasingly to the global burden of disease. Along with other behavioural risk factors, diet plays a key role in the onset and management of the disease, in turn largely determined by what foods are immediately accessible in local food environments. With this in mind, this thesis aims to answer the research question: What role do local food environments play in promoting or inhibiting access to healthy foods as part of the self - management of T2DM in urban and rural communities in South Africa, and what can be learned from an international perspective? Specific research objectives include, to: 1. Understand the current national-level policy context with regard to the observed rise in NCDs, their proximal determinants (specifically an observed change in diet patterns), and contributing environmental factors; 2. Identify the current food-related environmental factors associated with the onset and/or management of T2DM in an urban and a rural setting (as well as in four additional international settings in order to provide an international perspective); 3. Explore community perspectives of the role the local food environment plays in the self-management of T2DM in an urban and a rural setting; and, consequently 4. Recommend intervention- and/or policy-related actions that can be implemented based on study findings. A review of the literature and relevant policies was conducted towards achieving the first research objective. Quantitative data were systematically collected at an urban and rural site in South Africa through the creation of an ‘environmental profile’ in an attempt to achieve the second objective – comparable urban and rural data was also collected as part of a larger study at two other international sites (Kampala, Uganda and Stockholm, Sweden) to provide an international perspective. Included in the third objective is the collection of qualitative data through a community based participatory research method at the same urban and rural sites in South Africa. Finally, intervention and/or policy-related recommendations are developed based on study findings and in consultation with relevant stakeholders through interviews.