Green and grey : nutritional lifestyle and healthful ageing in rural and urban areas of three sub‐Saharan African countries

02 Mar 2021

Increased lifespan has resulted in a growing ageing population with non‐communicable diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, among others that are chronic in nature. Thus, causing dependency, disability, poor quality of life, and increased medical costs. This paper uses South Africa, Ghana, and Uganda to understand how improved medical interventions and social‐economic conditions have increased life expectancy while changing dietary and disease patterns. The countries are chosen due to their variations in urbanization and ageing levels. South Africa is more urbanized (66%) with an 8% aged population, followed by Ghana (56.06%) with a 5.3% aged population and Uganda (23.77%) with a 4.5% aged population. Lately, healthy dietary patterns are encouraged to promote healthy ageing and prevent, slow and reverse NCDs, through consumption of organic foods (higher in wholegrain foods, vegetables, fruits, with low meat consumption). Organic products are considered healthier, nutritious, fresher, and environmentally friendly because their production excludes pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and chemical food additives. Through literature reviews, we identified how older persons' nutritional patterns in South Africa, Ghana, and Uganda have evolved and their impacts on ageing. Findings indicated rising incomes and urbanization leading to nutrition transition, with traditional foods being substituted with foods high in meat, fats, refined sugars, and oils. Consequently, a double burden of diseases that are communicable and non‐communicable is emerging. Changes in diets of older persons have promoted overweight/obesity and under nutrition/underweight. It is, therefore, necessary to use strategies that improve levels of organic food intake through educational programs to the aged and their families on how to control diets and lifestyles. Also, household organic food production can be promoted by encouraging growing vegetables and fruits. This will help boost older persons' nutritional wellbeing, as well as promote the production of local organic foods that are environmental friendly and socially sustainable.