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In many respects, the continent of Africa is in transition. Prominent among them – currently – is the nutrition transition. One consequence of the nutrition transition is the increase in prevalence of nutrition-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, ...

In many respects, the continent of Africa is in transition. Prominent among them – currently – is the nutrition transition. One consequence of the nutrition transition is the increase in prevalence of nutrition-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers. Although NCDs are a global public health problem, the rate of increase in NCDs morbidity and mortality in some African countries is staggering. This surge has been linked to modifiable environmental factors – factors that facilitate the consumption of obesogenic (energy-dense nutrient-poor foods), rather than unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables.

It has long been recognized that the physical and social environments - in which people live, work, and eat are critical determinants of their health. More recently, there has been a greater focus on the food environment as a key determinant of health. Available evidence shows that unhealthy food environments drive unhealthy diets; and unhealthy diet is one of four main risk factors for NCDs.

Currently, experts conceptualize food environments as “the collective physical, economic, policy, and socio-cultural surroundings, opportunities, and conditions that influence people's food consumption patterns, and acknowledge them as determinants of health”. However, our understanding of the African food environment is limited. In part due to the fact that over the years, high level continental nutrition and health policies, strategies, and initiatives have all focused on ridding the continent of hunger and food insecurity. While hunger and food insecurity still persist, other forms of malnutrition (e.g. obesity and other nutrition-related NCDs outlined above) have emerged. Therefore, policies and actions that respond to all forms of malnutrition are needed. These policies need to be evidence-informed. Elsewhere, evidence shows that food environments inside homes, schools or communities routinely influence food preferences, choices, and consumption. Generation of local evidence can provide insights into which policies may be more effective in combating NCDs in Africa. Publicizing such evidence is thus an urgent priority for the continent.

The Topic Editors welcome a range of article types (including Original Research, Conceptual Analysis papers and Systematic Reviews) that contribute to our understanding the African food environments, the key drivers of food consumption/acquisition, as well as how to develop interventions and policies to improve food environments in Africa. Specific food environment issues may include but not limited to:
-Research into how food environments are experienced by different people
- Food environment and NCDs
- The measurements of food environment
- Research on the commercial determinants of nutrition and health in Africa
- Cost and affordability of healthy and sustainable diets
- Legislative, regulatory, fiscal, and other policies to improve accessibility to healthy sustainable diets
- Agriculture productivity, availability and affordability of nutrient-dense foods such as animal-source foods, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

Keywords: Food environments, Food systems, Africa, Diet-related non-communicable diseases, Obesity, Nutrition Policies, Food Environment Policies


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