Evaluating Nutrition Education in Under-Resourced Communities
We research Eat Better South Africa (EBSA)’s interventions that teach under-resourced communities about the dangers of excessive sugar and carbohydrate consumption.
Current Research Studies
Navigating possibilities and negotiating choice around food occupations for individuals on the LCHF diet who are at risk of worsening or developing type 2 diabetes mellitus in low income communities. (2021-)
Roshan Isaacs is a dedicated PhD researcher at The University of Cape Town. Roshan has received ethics approval for her upcoming project and will commence shortly with her study on Navigating possibilities and negotiating choice around food occupations for individuals on the Low-Carb High-Fat diet who are at risk of worsening or developing type 2 diabetes mellitus in low income communities.
LCHF or Banting diet has gained increasing popularity in recent years in South Africa. Many people may have chosen to be on this diet to prevent or mitigate the effects of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
People from low income communities may be at particular risk of worsening or developing T2DM. Occupational therapy attempts to understand human occupation and what people do i.e. their occupations and whether what they do supports their health and wellbeing or not. Little is known of how individuals from low income communities navigate possibilities and negotiate choice with food occupations when on the LCHF diet. Placing this issue within a social, political and economic context, this research will attempt to respond to this question.
Behavioural and self-report measures of food choice in women who have taken part in a nutrition education program
Eat Better South Africa (EBSA), the community outreach branch of The Noakes Foundation aims to empower people from under-resourced communities to improve their health by making the best dietary choices available to them. EBSA has run several community nutrition education programs to teach women how to choose healthier foods. Most nutrition studies use diet assessment tools that require self-report e.g. Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ), food recall or food diaries. These measures may suffer from bias and noise due to participants’ inattention to what they eat, inability to recall fully and the lack of financial incentive for accuracy. We aimed to validate this FFQ measure with an incentivised behavioural decision task. We tested whether EBSA impacts participants’ food choice when a real decision with real products can be made.
Effect of a low-carbohydrate nutrition education program on dietary choices and metabolic health in women from low-income South African communities.
Overconsumption of sugar, refined carbohydrates and poor quality oils, increases the risk for developing chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Families from poor communities are often forced to eat these harmful nutrients due to a lack of nutrition education, or because they cannot afford or don’t know how to access healthy foods. While poverty is an important barrier to health and education for both men and women, in South Africa, it tends to yield a higher burden on women. Eat Better South Africa (EBSA), the community outreach branch of The Noakes Foundation aims to empower people from under-resourced communities to improve their health by making the best dietary choices available to them. EBSA runs nutrition education programs which last around 6 weeks and promotes LCHF diets to prevent or treat metabolic conditions. The recommended diet mostly focuses on the reduction of simple sugars, refined carbs and oils, and processed junk food and encourages consumptions of affordable vegetables, fish, meats, and food that contain healthy fats such as nuts and avocados. Participants also join an online instant messaging group where they can ask questions and share motivation with each other and the EBSA team.