An assessment of types of foods consumed by individuals in selected households in South Africa
Health and wellbeing of humans is affected by their eating habits, patterns and choice of meals. This research discusses food consumption patterns of selected households of Mbilwi and Matavhela villages in Thulamela Municipality, Limpopo Province of South Africa. The study identified types of food consumed using 24-hour food recall of households living in the study area. Using purposive sampling, qualitative and quantitative inquiry were used to gather nutritional information and to assess the types of foods consumed by individuals in a community. A sample size of 50 and 47 households from each village were selected respectively and the heads of each household were interviewed. Thematic content analysis was used to categorise data into themes, to address and interpret qualitative data. Themes were generated as the units for analysis based on the objectives of the study to enable interpretation of qualitative information. Analysis of quantitative data was done using Statistical Packages for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 23.0. to generate descriptive numerical data that were used to compare the two groups.
The findings indicated that there was no variety in foods consumed by households of Mbilwi and Matavhela villages in the 24-hour food recall. Households usually consumed mostly energy giving foods in the carbohydrates group followed by the other category group which comprised of beverages (such as tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, sugary drinks) group. The 24 hour recall revealed that There was low consumption of the fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein groups. Various socio-economic factors such as available income/food, friends/relatives, work environment, appetite, health condition, available food preparation time, religion; nutritional knowledge, seasonality of food; living conditions, , culture, religion affected eating habits. The findings in this study provides some useful information that can provide a understanding of the nutrition status of households in the study area.. Information sharing with households on the benefits of balanced diets can contribute to good health. The emphasis must be on strengthening backyard vegetable/fruit gardens and community food gardening programmes for household consumption and sale to generate income. Policy makers must encourage provision of nutritional knowledge to households through different media and channels such as television, clinics, hospitals, schools, and newspapers.
Keywords: eating patterns, eating habits, food consumption patterns, dietary patterns