Publications by authors named "Divya Bhagtani"

3 Publications

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A Systematic Scoping Review of the Impacts of Community Food Production Initiatives in Kenya, Cameroon, and South Africa.

J Glob Health Rep 2021 24;5. Epub 2021 Mar 24.

MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Background: Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in two people in Africa were food insecure. The burden of malnutrition remains high (e.g. childhood stunting, anaemia in women of reproductive age) or are increasing (e.g. overweight and obesity). A range of coordinated actions are required to improve this situation, including increasing local food production and consumption. The aim of this review was to provide a systematic and comprehensive overview of recently published research into the health, social, economic, and environmental impacts of community food production initiatives (CFPIs) in Kenya, Cameroon and South Africa.

Methods: We searched eight electronic databases covering health, social, environmental, economic and agricultural sciences. Primary research studies published from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2018 were considered. Data on geographic location, study design, type of CFPI and the impacts assessed were abstracted from eligible articles.

Findings: We identified 4828 articles, 260 of which required full-text review and 118 met our eligibility criteria. Most research was conducted in Kenya (53.4%) and South Africa (38.1%). The categories of CFPIs studied were (in order of decreasing frequency): crop farming, livestock farming, unspecified farming, fisheries, home / school gardens, urban agriculture, and agroforestry. The largest number of studies were on the economic and environmental impacts of CFPIs, followed by their health and social impacts. The health impacts investigated included food security, nutrition status and dietary intake. One study investigated the potential impact of CFPIs on non-communicable diseases. Over 60% of studies investigated a single category of impact. Not one of the studies explicitly used a theoretical framework to guide its design or interpretation.

Conclusions: Our findings on research studies of CFPIs suggest the need for a greater focus on interdisciplinary research in order to improve understanding of the relationships between their health, environmental, economic, and social impacts. Greater use of explicit theoretical frameworks could assist in research design and interpretation, helping to ensure its relevance to informing coordinated intersectoral interventions and policy initiatives.
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March 2021

Food Sources and Dietary Quality in Small Island Developing States: Development of Methods and Policy Relevant Novel Survey Data from the Pacific and Caribbean.

Nutrients 2020 Oct 30;12(11). Epub 2020 Oct 30.

European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School, Truro TR1 3HD, UK.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have high and increasing rates of diet-related diseases. This situation is associated with a loss of food sovereignty and an increasing reliance on nutritionally poor food imports. A policy goal, therefore, is to improve local diets through improved local production of nutritious foods. Our aim in this study was to develop methods and collect preliminary data on the relationships between where people source their food, their socio-demographic characteristics and dietary quality in Fiji and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) in order to inform further work towards this policy goal. We developed a toolkit of methods to collect individual-level data, including measures of dietary intake, food sources, socio-demographic and health indicators. Individuals aged ≥15 years were eligible to participate. From purposively sampled urban and rural areas, we recruited 186 individuals from 95 households in Fiji, and 147 individuals from 86 households in SVG. Descriptive statistics and multiple linear regression were used to investigate associations. The mean dietary diversity score, out of 10, was 3.7 (SD1.4) in Fiji and 3.8 (SD1.5) in SVG. In both settings, purchasing was the most common way of sourcing food. However, 68% (Fiji) and 45% (SVG) of participants regularly (>weekly) consumed their own produce, and 5% (Fiji) and 33% (SVG) regularly consumed borrowed/exchanged/bartered food. In regression models, independent positive associations with dietary diversity (DD) were: borrowing/exchanging/bartering food (β = 0.73 (0.21, 1.25)); age (0.01 (0.00, 0.03)); and greater than primary education (0.44 (0.06, 0.82)). DD was negatively associated with small shop purchasing (-0.52 (95% CIs -0.91, -0.12)) and rural residence (-0.46 (-0.92, 0.00)). The findings highlight associations between dietary diversity and food sources and indicate avenues for further research to inform policy actions aimed at improving local food production and diet.
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October 2020

Implications of COVID-19 control measures for diet and physical activity, and lessons for addressing other pandemics facing rapidly urbanising countries.

Glob Health Action 2020 12;13(1):1810415

MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge , Cambridge, UK.

At the time of writing, it is unclear how the COVID-19 pandemic will play out in rapidly urbanising regions of the world. In these regions, the realities of large overcrowded informal settlements, a high burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases, as well as malnutrition and precarity of livelihoods, have raised added concerns about the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in these contexts. COVID-19 infection control measures have been shown to have some effects in slowing down the progress of the pandemic, effectively buying time to prepare the healthcare system. However, there has been less of a focus on the indirect impacts of these measures on health behaviours and the consequent health risks, particularly in the most vulnerable. In this current debate piece, focusing on two of the four risk factors that contribute to >80% of the NCD burden, we consider the possible ways that the restrictions put in place to control the pandemic, have the potential to impact on dietary and physical activity behaviours and their determinants. By considering mitigation responses implemented by governments in several LMIC cities, we identify key lessons that highlight the potential of economic, political, food and built environment sectors, mobilised during the pandemic, to retain health as a priority beyond the context of pandemic response. Such whole-of society approaches are feasible and necessary to support equitable healthy eating and active living required to address other epidemics and to lower the baseline need for healthcare in the long term.
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December 2020