The influence of food environments on dietary behaviour and nutrition in Southeast Asia

Josephine Gaupholm, Andrew Papadopoulos, Aiza Asif, Warren Dodd, Matthew Little
Nutrition and Health

Food environments are crucial spaces within the food system for understanding and addressing many of the shared drivers of malnutrition. In recent years, food environment research has grown rapidly, however, definitions, measures, and methods remain highly inconsistent, leading to a body of literature that is notably heterogeneous and poorly understood, particularly within regions of the Asia-Pacific. This scoping review aims to synthesize the nature, extent, and range of published literature surrounding the role of the food environment on influencing dietary behaviour and nutrition in Southeast Asia. 

A systematic search of 5 databases was conducted following PRISMA guidelines for scoping reviews. Eligible studies included peer-reviewed research with adult participants living in Southeast Asia that examined the food environment as a determinant of dietary behaviour or nutrition. A total of 45 articles were included. Overall, studies indicated that dietary behaviours in Southeast Asia were primarily driven by social, cultural, and economic factors rather than physical (e.g. geographical) features of food environments. Food price and affordability were most consistently identified as key barriers to achieving healthy diets. 

This work contributes to the establishment of more robust conceptualizations of food environments within diverse settings which may aid future policymakers and researchers identify and address the barriers or obstacles impacting nutrition and food security in their communities. Further research is needed to strengthen this knowledge, particularly research that explicitly explores the macro-level mechanisms and pathways that influence diet and nutrition outcomes.

Access the Full Paper

Related Resources:

This resource has been peer reviewed