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Official launch of the website of the FoodSAMSA project: towards improving the South African local food environment using a syndemics approach





The FoodSAMSA project aims to address malnutrition in all its forms. Malnutrition is recognized as a key risk factor for premature death and disease worldwide. Approximately 20% of the burden of disease and of all premature deaths globally are attributed to nutritional risk factors, including malnutrition and unhealthy diets.

In many low- and middle-income countries, the different forms of malnutrition coexist and interact, both within households and communities and over the life course of individuals. The term double burden of malnutrition has been coined to describe the coexistence of both under- and overnutrition, which is an example of a syndemic, i.e., a set of epidemics that co-occur in time and place, interact in complex patterns, share common systemic drivers and require concerted and coordinated responses.

The project will adapt existing approaches for assessing and improving food environments in countries facing this double burden of malnutrition, implement these in South Africa, and strengthen capacities and regional networks that support food environment and food systems research and action across Sub-Saharan Africa. We will also conduct participatory research to develop models of different parts of the South-African food system and pilot and evaluate interventions to improve local food environments. Furthermore, we will use integrated knowledge translation methods to liaise with a range of stakeholders, including policymakers, business and civil society actors, and thus maximize the practical and policy impact of our research.

FoodSAMSA consists of three pillars, addressing policy, community and interpersonal determinants of dietary behavior, and of three cross-cutting components, including complex systems mapping, integrated knowledge translation, and capacity and network building.

This 3-year project is a collaborative partnership between the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU Munich), the Chronic Disease Initiative for Africa at the University of Cape Town (CDIA/UCT), the University of Western Cape (UWC), and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), and is supported by funds from the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

On the website you can learn more about the team behind the project and get up to speed with the latest news as well as social media updates.

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