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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Rutgers Professor Receives International Collaborative Research Grant

Dr. Shauna Downs of Rutgers School of Public Health has been selected to receive an International Collaborative Research (ICR) Grant. The grant, will fund Dr. Downs’s proposal, “Mapping the food environment in an urban slum in Kenya: A mixed-methods pilot study to inform the development of a discrete choice experiment.

[Photo: Dr. Shauna Downs]

The study will focus on low-income urban slum populations in Kenya that are among the most vulnerable to the multiple burdens of malnutrition, experiencing both high rates of undernutrition and overweight/obesity. Food environments in these settings may not support nutritious food choices. However, little is known about these food environments, how they influence the drivers of food choice, nor how to modify these drivers to reorient food choices towards diets that reduce the risk of all forms of malnutrition. This exploratory pilot project will use mixed-methods to characterize food environments in an urban slum in Nairobi, Kenya and describe the drivers of food choice among women slum dwellers. By better understanding what foods women have access to, and what drives them to choose the foods they do for themselves and their families, this project will help lay the groundwork for the development of policies and interventions aimed at improving food choices aimed at tackling the multiple burdens of malnutrition.

Dr. Downs’s work has global reach. She has spent over 10 years studying the relationships between food environments and diets among vulnerable populations in the developing world and the role of interventions and policies to improve the availability, affordability and acceptability of nutritious foods and will continue her work with the ICR Grant.

“As populations shift from rural to urban settings they face markedly different food environments, likely influencing what they eat, and their risk of diet-related disease,” says Dr. Downs. “This project will help to inform ways to alter food choices based on the realities faced by low-income slum dwellers in Kenya. Ensuring that food policies are context-specific is essential in order to improve their likelihood of success.”

Dr. Downs will report this study’s findings and accomplishments by April, 2020.