Menu Close

Understanding the Nutrition Transition


Popkin, Barry M. (1996). Understanding the Nutrition Transition. Urbanisation and Health Newsletter, 30, 3-19.


his article presents an overview of nutrition transition and experiences in China and Russia with monitoring of economic and health changes. Fogel (1994) showed that improvements in nutrition were associated with significant shifts in economic productivity. Over the past 300 years, the pace of dietary change has increased to some extent worldwide. Dietary changes are evident in changes in average stature and body composition and parallel major changes in health status. The nutrition transition follows the pattern of collecting food, famine, receding famine, degenerative disease, and behavioral change. The author's first proposition is that nutritional trends and dietary change are associated with population growth, age structure, and spatial distribution. Urban population has a distinctly different diet from rural population. Urban diets include superior grains, more milled and polished grains, higher fat content, more animal products, more sugar, and more prepared and processed food. Urban and rural diets are farther apart in low-income countries. The author's second proposition is that diet and activity are affected by income, patterns of work, and socioeconomic changes. Women's role changes affect household food preparation. Income allows for the purchase of goods or services that affect diet. Income increases are related to greater expenditures on food. The third proposition is that diet changes are associated with changes in knowledge and access to mass media. The last proposition is that interaction between epidemiological, socioeconomic, and demographic changes determines the nature and pace of nutrition transition.

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Urbanisation and Health Newsletter


Popkin, Barry M.