Assessment of dietary challenges faced by Sub-Saharan immigrants residing in Gauteng province: a pilot study
Migration poses a unique food challenge that has led to immigrant households failing to maintain their traditional food diets. Despite the growing number of Sub-Saharan immigrants living in South Africa, information regarding their dietary challenges and habits upon settlement in South Africa is limited. A descriptive study involving immigrant households (n=34) was primarily used to pre-test a questionnaire that was undertaken by immigrants to assess the challenges they face with regard to their ability to continue with and maintain their traditional diets. Data relating to socio-demographic characteristics, such as continuity with ethnic food culture and the problems faced by Sub-Saharan immigrants with regard to them retaining their traditional food culture was collected. All the respondents indicated that they treasured and maintained their traditional food culture, albeit to varying degrees. Overall, high prices (64,6%), limited variety (64,5%), the quality of food (71%), the unavailability of traditional foods (58,7%) and a lack of shops selling traditional food (76,5%) were identified as major barriers to them retaining their traditional food culture. This is the first study to assess the challenges faced by immigrants living in South Africa with regard to them accessing their traditional foods and maintaining their traditional diets. The findings of the study suggest that Sub-Saharan immigrants living in South Africa find it difficult to access their traditional foods and that this lack of access could predispose them to adopt poor eating habits, however, there is still a need for a larger study with more respondents to test these findings. The findings of the study also revealed that there were lot of similarities between the eating patterns of South Africans and those of immigrants from Southern African countries.