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International research team investigating diet changes which could prevent type 2 diabetes

An international team of researchers is investigating how making healthy dietary changes could prevent type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
The University of Sheffield, which is leading the team, will investigate dietary transitions in Ghana and how these changes are influenced by increasing migration to cities.
The researchers will focus on the sharp increase of health conditions such as type 2 diabetes which are linked to unhealthy lifestyles.
Dr Amos Laar, University of Ghana, said: “We will undertake novel approaches for collecting data on food consumption and practices, and the factors associated with them.
“The different approaches will include collecting the views of communities and stakeholders in identifying solutions to the problem of eating unhealthy diets. We will be interviewing women and adolescent girls about what kinds of food they eat by using photography to explore the factors that influence these decisions.”
Sheffield University scientists say that increasing migration to cities can result in people having unhealthier diets, but there isn’t sufficient data to understand the factors that drive dietary changes, such as environment, access to healthy food and socioeconomic status.
Principal investigator of the study, Professor Michelle Holdsworth, from the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), said: “Diets are changing globally and dietary transition is now happening in most cities of the global south, including countries in African, Central and Latin America and Asia, where people’s habits are changing from a traditional plant-based diet – which are healthier – to a diet that is high in processed, energy-dense convenience foods, rich in fat and sugar, but poor in nutrients.”
Processed, convenience foods are also typically high in refined carbohydrate, which is known to be a key driver of long-term health conditions.
Dr Francis Zotor, lead for the study in the Ghanaian city of Ho, added: “We will also be mapping the food environment in people’s neighbourhoods to explore how features of the environment might influence people’s diets to help us identify interventions with local experts and policy makers that could be effective in improving diets and maintaining traditional dietary habits.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) have estimated that the diabetes population will double in Africa over the next 25 years.
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