Available food options at local shops in relation to food insecurity among older adults in Sharpeville, South Africa
Due to limited resources and complex food access systems in urban areas, especially older adults are more vulnerable to poor dietary intake and food insecurity in low-income areas in South Africa. This study assessed the prevalence of food insecurity among the older adults and explored the availability of healthy foods in local shops. It was a crosssectional study conducted in an eldercare centre in Sharpeville, South Africa with an estimated representative sample of 88 participants. Validated tools were used to measure the socio-economic, dietary diversity intake (24-hour dietary recall), household food security and access from the participants. Listing of available foods was carried out on street vendors (n=13) and spaza shops (local community shops) (n=17) within a four kilometre radius of the centre through on-site visit. A binary logistic regression was used to examine the determinants of food insecurity among older adults. More than half (54.5%) of the older adults reported severe household food insecurity. In this study, 34.1% of the older adults consumed foods from <5 food groups in a day out of the 10 food groups. A large number of respondents did not consume any nuts or seeds (n=64, 72.7%), eggs (n=75, 85.2%), dark green leafy vegetables (n=64, 72.7%) or vitamin Arich fruits and vegetables (n=47, 53.4%). On the other hand, in terms of food availability, fruits and vegetables were more common in street vendors whereas, fish, meat, and high calorie or salt containing snack were more available in spaza shops. All spaza shops sold high calorie or salt containing snack products (such as soda drinks, chips). Households with under-five children were 2.42 times food insecure than the households without any under-five children (p < 0.05), and the participants who experienced money shortage always or often to buy food and clothes were more food insecure (p < 0.05). Nutrition education along with ensuring availability and easy access to healthy foods in the market are necessary to ensure sustainable food security of older adults.
Keywords: older adults, food security, dietary diversity, availability, local shops