Assessment of socio-cultural and economic determinants of food selection and consumption among Nairobi households: a case study of Jerusalem, Buruburu phase II and Akiba estates
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This was a survey research whose purpose was to assess determinants of food selection and consumption in selected Nairobi households. Among the variables considered were culture, attitude towards food, food preferences, price of food, nutritional knowledge and satisfaction with food selection and consumption. The objectives of the study were to: - (1) investigate the effect of cultural factors on food selection and consumption among Nairobi households, (2) determine the attitudes of Nairobi households towards food selection and consumption, (3) determine the influence of food preferences on food selection and consumption among Nairobi households, (4) investigate the effect nutritional knowledge has on food selection among Nairobi households, (5) investigate the effect of price of certain food commodities on food selection and consumption among Nairobi households, and (6) assess Nairobi households' satisfaction with their food selection and consumption. The data in the study was collected using a questionnaire. The questionnaire was filled by 163 respondents from Jerusalem, Buruburu phase II, and Akiba (Langata) estates. The respondent was the person in the household who was in charge of food selection. The research period was between June-August 1992. The data were analysed by the use of mean, frequencies and percentages, and presented by the use of tables and charts. Results of the study showed that cultural factors did not influence food selection and consumption in Nairobi probably due to the town's cosmopolitan nature. The people from different cultural backgrounds have mingled and influenced each other’s food selection and consumption practices. Households selected those foods they could afford ad preferred. Most households in the study liked most of the foods that were provided on the food list. However, fish, coconut, coffee and cocoa were rated as disliked by some of the households. These foods tend to be unavailable both economically and physically, and are unfamiliar and therefore end up being disliked. The price of food was found to be the greatest determinant of food selection and consumption as shown by the results. Most households rated most foods as expensive. Jerusalem households were most affected by price of food as compared to Buruburu and Akiba households. This was attributed to Jerusalem's low total family monthly income. The study showed that nutritional knowledge did not influence food selection and consumption. Respondents were found to be nutritionally knowledgeable. However, most households especially in Jerusalem were found to select and consume foods that were nutritionally inferior. This was explained by the fact that, most of these households could not afford the more expensive food stuffs which mostly comprised of proteinous foods. It was evident from the study results that households did not regard cultural feelings towards food selection and consumption. Thus they did not advocate men getting served first with best parts of food, and women eating last. Most households believed in each family member getting equal attention in food service. Traditional foods were also regarded to have equal value to modern ones. Study findings showed that there was general dissatisfaction with the quality and quantity of foods selected and consumed. Households were also dissatisfied with the cost of food. Jerusalem and Buruburu households indicated a dissatisfaction with the general appeal and variety of foods selected and consumed. However, most households were generally satisfied with the distribution of food amongst family members and also the availability of foods they selected. About half of the households were satisfied with the distance of the shopping centre from their houses.