Hypermarket, foodscape and health

Sign saying 'Lake Basin Mall'. Because sign is viewed from the back, the letters are reversed.

This study concerns a natural experimental evaluation of the impacts of a new hypermarket in Kisumu, Kenya, on food shopping practices, dietary behaviours, physical activity patterns and nutritional status in local residents.

This research will inform the development of policies and programmes to improve access to healthy food.

The types and amount of food people eat result from a complex interaction of factors including policy, culture and access to food. Low- and middle-income countries are in the process of a nutrition transition: populations are moving from eating traditional staples toward cheap and highly processed food.

Currently in Africa and in Kenya, large supermarket chains are expanding into urban settings, helping drive the nutrition transition through enabling local populations to access a wider range of both healthy and unhealthy foods. Prior research in Kenya suggests that living near a supermarket increases the amount of processed food eaten, resulting in higher levels of overweight in adults but lower levels of underweight in children.

This study explores impacts of a new hypermarket in Kisumu on food shopping practices, diet, activity patterns and body size in local residents, as well as related changes in the local food outlets and how these changes are experienced by different socioeconomic groups.

So far, we have geo-located the different food outlets in the local area, and administered surveys as well as measurements of body size with a cross-section of residents of Kisumu and Homa Bay (the comparator location). We have also collected qualitative data from a subset of households and stakeholders involved in the development of the new hypermarket.

When the hypermarket is open, will perform a second round of data collection in these areas, as well as gathering data from hypermarket shoppers.

This information will be used to inform policy and practice around improving access to healthy food in the context of Africa’s urban transition.

A view of the Mall where the hypermarket will open

Key contacts

The Kenya study team and data collection workers