A Sociology of Food Consumption Patterns in South Africa and Cameroon.
A sociology of food consumption patterns in South Africa and Cameroon.
Sheila Manka, Mafikeng Campus, North West University, South Africa
Previously African countries lived on consuming indigenous food, which were grown naturally and thus void of chemicals. Such foods strengthen the body and make the individual healthier. In recent times, however, there has been a global nutritional transition, whereby many people shift to the consumption of more affluent food patterns (of processed and fast, packaged foods). These foods are not very healthy as they can lead to health related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure. The aim of this paper is to examine the reasons and effects of the shift in consumption in two African countries, that is, South Africa and Cameroon. The study seeks to understand the effects of the change, and to compare past to present modern food consumption patterns. A qualitative research approach is used, with in-depth interviews, with a sample of 30 participants stratified into different age groups. These include the youth, middle aged people and the elderly. This kind of sample has been chosen in order to understand the reasons for the shift in consumption patterns from the past into the present. The paper also seeks to make some suggestions on what needs to be done to reduce or avoid the shift in consumption patterns. One finding is that the shift in consumption patterns is due to many factors, including modernization, globalization, lifestyle changes, availability and accessibility to food varieties. The effects of such exposure can be linked due to negative health, as outlined above. One recommendation is that a shift towards indigenous diets is necessary, and that there has to be a reduction in the consumption of genetically modified foods.