Drivers of food choice among women living in informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya

Shauna M. Downs, Elizabeth L. Fox, Alexandra Zivkovic, Theodora Mavros, Minna Sabbahi, Emily V. Merchant, Vincent Mutuku, Kedeen Okumu-Camerra, Simon Kimenju

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Suboptimal diets drive the multiple burdens of malnutrition among women living in informal settlements. Women's food choices have important implications for their health, as well as that of their families. The purpose of this study was to examine how food choice decisions might differ across different age groups of women living in informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya. Using in-depth interviews which incorporated a free-listing task, we determined the factors influencing food choice decisions in women in two informal settlements, Kibera and Mukuru. Among women in all age groups, we found income and food price to be the most salient factors influencing food choice decisions. Differences across age groups regarding food choice considerations included individual preference and quality being more salient factors amongst younger women while household preferences were more salient among older women. Women also reported making trade-offs between food affordability and other factors including time and nutrition, which led to sub-optimal diets. Our findings suggest that interventions in these settings may need to be tailored to specific age groups. Additionally, interventions may need to target both individual factors and the external food environment to help women overcome the trade-offs they often find themselves making in food choice decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105748
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • Food choice
  • Food environment
  • Food preferences


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