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Med Trop (Mars). 2000;60(2):179-91.

[Nutrition, urbanization and poverty in subsaharan Africa].

[Article in French]

Author information

  • 1Unité de Nutrition, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Montpellier, France.


Africa is currently the continent with the highest urbanization rate in the world. This demographic upheaval has sometimes been considered as an opportunity for modernization but as early as the 1980s experts called attention to its potential impact on nutrition. In recent decades, economic problems and structural reforms have had dire effects on urban populations. Today increasing poverty and the effects of globalization have revived concerns about urban nutrition. Retarded growth and emaciation are less common than in urban areas than in rural areas, but disparities between the rich and poor are much greater. However, in some cities, the incidence of emaciation progressed the more during the 1990s, and now equals that in rural areas. In cities the level of obesity in adult women is a sign of nutritional transition but emaciation has also increased. Despite the wide variety of urban conditions, analysis of the underlying factors reveals several constants. For most of these factors, the characteristic feature of the urban environment is a further increase of social inequality.

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