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The authors declare that they have no competing interest.
SD undertook the main drafting of this manuscript and provided oversight for the study. JV and LN led the research team in Johannesburg, undertook the primary analysis and drafted the manuscript. MF undertook the analysis around dietary diversity and drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
This paper considers the question of dietary diversity as a proxy for nutrition insecurity in communities living in the inner city and the urban informal periphery in Johannesburg. It argues that the issue of nutrition insecurity demands urgent and immediate attention by policy makers.
A cross-sectional survey was undertaken for households from urban informal (n = 195) and urban formal (n = 292) areas in Johannesburg, South Africa. Foods consumed by the respondents the previous day were used to calculate a Dietary Diversity Score; a score < 4 was considered low.
Statistical comparisons of means between groups revealed that respondents from informal settlements consumed mostly cereals and meat/poultry/fish, while respondents in formal settlements consumed a more varied diet. Significantly more respondents living in informal settlements consumed a diet of low diversity (68.1%) versus those in formal settlements (15.4%). When grouped in quintiles, two-thirds of respondents from informal settlements fell in the lowest two, versus 15.4% living in formal settlements. Households who experienced periods of food shortages during the previous 12 months had a lower mean DDS than those from food secure households (4.00 ± 1.6 versus 4.36 ± 1.7; p = 0.026).
Respondents in the informal settlements were more nutritionally vulnerable. Achieving nutrition security requires policies, strategies and plans to include specific nutrition considerations.