Future diets in the developing world: questions, answers and gaps

Working and discussion papers
September 2017
Sharada Keats and Steve Wiggins

As low-income countries develop, people’s diets change. They tend to move from being high in cereals (maize, rice, wheat), starchy staples (potato, cassava, plantain) and fibre, to more westernised patterns that are high in sugars, fats and animal-source foods. This has been termed the nutrition transition. It is usually accompanied by increasingly sedentary lifestyles (as technology displaces manual labour or physical play, for instance), as well as demographic and epidemiological shifts.

This working paper poses some key questions about diets across the developing world and their implications. It also highlights important gaps in understanding that require more attention, research and analysis.