Dietary Transitions in Ghanian Cities: Mapping the Factors in the Social and Physical Food Environments that  Drive Consumption of Energy Dense Nutrient-Poor (EDNP) Food and Beverages to Identify Interventions Targeting Women and Adolescent Girls Throughout the Reproductive Life Course


Project objectives:  

To examine factors in social and physical food environments of African cities that drive consumption of EDNP foods and beverages, and harness this understanding to develop interventions to reduce their consumption.    


Setting: Two Ghanaian cities of different stages of transition: provincial city (Ho- population>270,000); capital city (Accra- population>1.8 million).  

Study population: Women/adolescent girls living in lower wealth quintile neighborhoods at four key stages of the reproductive life course: i. Early adolescence (13-14y) not pregnant or breastfeeding; ii. Pregnancy (15-49y); iii. Breastfeeding (15-49y); and iv. Women/older adolescents not breastfeeding or pregnant (15-49y). Community informants and national stakeholders will also be interviewed.  

Proposed methods: A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to examine factors in the social and physical food environments that drive consumption of EDNP foods and beverages: longitudinal qualitative interviews with women/adolescent girls including 24hr recall and Photovoice; Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping; and a photography exhibition. We will integrate these findings into developing priorities for context-specific gender interventions to reduce consumption of EDNP foods of women and adolescent girls to reduce the gender gap: Community Readiness Model (CRM), policy documentary analysis, Multi-Criteria Mapping (MCM) and stakeholder deliberation with local community informants and national stakeholders. Widespread dissemination will include webinars in Ghana and beyond, to build momentum for future implementation of interventions.  

Lead Institution

University of Sheffield, UK

Collaborating Institutions

Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana

Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana

Centre for Global Health and Human Development, Loughborough University

The French Agricultural Research & International Cooperative Organization (CIRAD)

Department of Geography and Planning, University of Liverpool, UK

Principal Investigator(s)

> Michelle Holdsworth, RD, PhD, Professor of Public Health, University of Sheffield, UK

> Amos Laar, MPH, MA, PhD, Senior Lecturer, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana

> Francis Zotor, PhD, Senior Lecturer, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana


> Robert Akparibo, MPH, PhD, Lecturer/Researcher, University of Sheffield, UK

> Paula Griffiths, PhD, Reader in Biosocial Science, Loughborough University

> Mark Green, PhD, Lecturer, University of Sheffield, UK

> Nicolas Bricas, MSc, Senior Researcher & UNESCO Chair of World Food Systems, Agricultural Research & International Cooperative Organization

> Kobby Mensah, PhD, Lecturer, University of Ghana Business School

Posters and Presentations

“Dietary transitions in Ghanaian cities: using innovative methods to map the social and physical food environments that drive consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages, to identify contextually appropriate policies and interventions: the DFC Dietary transitions in Ghana study.” By Holdsworth, M., Zotor, F., Pradeilles, R., Griffiths, P., Green, M., Mensah, K., Akparibo, R., Barnes, A., Bricas, N., Laar, A. 3rd Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week, Accra, Ghana, 25-29 June 2018.

“Dietary transitions in Ghanaian cities.” By Laar, A. 3rd Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week, Accra, Ghana. 25-29 June 2018.

“Dietary transitions in African cities.” By Osei-Kwasi, H.A., Laar, A., Pradeilles, R., Zotor, F., Aryeetey, R., Akparibo, R., Tandoh, A., Klomegah, S., Green, M., Bricas, N., Griffiths, P., Njera, M., and Holdsworth, M. N8 Agri-food annual conference, Liverpool, May 2018.

“Social and physical drivers of food choice: a participatory Photovoice project in two Ghanaian cities: a DFC Dietary transitions in Ghana study.” By Pradeilles, R, Laar, A., Zotor, F., Tandoh, A., Klomegah, S., Osei-Kwasi, H., Bohr, M., Green, M., Bricas, N., Holdsworth, M., Griffiths, P. 3rd Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week, Accra, Ghana, 25-29 June 2018.

Implementation of Healthy Food Environment Policies in Ghana: Gaps and Priorities to Prevent Nutrition-Related NCDs” By Laar, A. 4th Agriculture, Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy Week, Hyderabad, India, 24–28 June 2019.

“How unhealthy food and beverages are embedded in everyday life in Ghanaian cities”. By Holdsworth, M., Pradeilles, R., Zotor, F., Green, G., Tandoh, A., Klomegah, S., Osei-Kwasi, H., Bricas, N., Griffiths, P., Laar, A. Sixth BSA Food Study Group Conference: Re-Imagining Food Systems, Sustainability, Futures and the Everyday. 24-25 June 2019, at Monash University, Prato, Italy.

Press Releases

1. A press release was issued at the start of the project (January 2017) by the University of Sheffield, UK and University of Ghana:  Dietary Transitions in Ghanaian Cities Project Launched

2. Press releases were issued by the University of Ghana and Loughborough University, UK in June 2018 for the Photovoice exhibition launches held at Jamestown, Accra and Ho municipal centre, Ho. Identifying the changes in diet which could prevent obesity and diabetes

3.  Using photography to help the people of Ghana make healthier diet choices 

4. Photo exhibitions in Ghana reveal what drives community food choices 


  1. DFC blog from Hibbah Araba osei-kwasi (Research Assistant): Observations from the field: Dietary transitions in Ghanian cities
  2. DFC blog from Krystal Rampalli, Rebecca Pradeilles, and Akua Tandoh: Food safety is an important factor to consider in promoting healthy eating in urban Ghana


Dietary Transitions in Ghanian Cities