Social Connectedness and Dietary Change of Young Adults in Transitioning Pastoral Communities in Rural Tanzania Open Access

Kibler, Janelle (Spring 2019)

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A key driver of food preferences and dietary shifts is social connectedness through the social and cultural norms observed and modeling behaviors. This sub-study reviewed data from focus group discussions (FGDs) of a larger study examining the drivers of dietary changes in pastoralist communities at varied levels of sedentarization. Eighteen FGDs were analyzed using a Grounded Theory approach, which led to the development of a conceptual framework visualizing how social connectedness impacts dietary preferences and changes through the process of sedentarization. Key drivers that result in a shift of social connectedness and subsequently alter diets are education, religion, interethnic exchange, and population migration. These shifts most often occur through increasing access to information and, in turn, alter social connectedness and its manifestation within the pastoral communities in this study. The greatest shifts in diet were seen among youth in  intensive sedentary communities. Dietary changes seen are a movement away from traditional foods with high nutritional quality (such as milk and blood) and towards previously tabooed foods such as poultry, eggs and cultivated vegetables. The avoidance of fish, chicken, and eggs are decreasing among youth of extensive and intensive sedentary communities but remain an important principle for extensive pastoralists. Cultivated vegetable access has increased, while the practice of foraging for fruits and vegetables in the forest has declined. Nutrient poor, foods such as processed items, chips, and soda also increased. In the case of pastoralists facing varying levels of sedentarization, diets are shifting to include more processed foods, breads, and maize and less milk and blood. Ultimately, the possibility of increased dietary diversity exists, yet the nutrition status for many has decreased or remained the same as sedentarization levels climb. This leaves the population vulnerable to malnutrition, infectious diseases, and poverty. 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction.. 15

1.1 Introduction and Significance. 15

1.2 Rationale. 17

1.3 Purpose Statement. 19

1.4 Aims. 19

1.5 Definition of Terms. 20

Chapter 2: Literature Review... 21

2.1 Introduction. 21

2.2 Social connectedness with young adults. 21

2.3 Pastoralism.. 24

2.4 Young adults in pastoral communities. 26

2.5 Sedentarization of pastoralists—Causes and Impacts. 28

2.6 Shifting diets in pastoral communities. 31

2.7 Gaps in Research. 33

Chapter 3: Methods. 33

3.1 Introduction. 33

3.2 Population and sample. 34

3.3 Data Collection. 35

3.4 Ethics and Informed Consent. 37

3.5 Data Analysis. 37

Chapter 4: Results. 38

4.1 Results. 38

Chapter 5: Discussion.. 47

5.1 Summary of Findings. 47

5.2 Key Findings within Literature. 48

5.3 Recommendations. 50

5.4 Strengths and Limitations. 51

5.5 Future Work. 52

5.6 Conclusion. 53

Appendices. 54

Appendix 1: Network plot of key drivers of diet change across all age groups. 54

Appendix 2: Conceptual Framework of how social connectedness impacts diet. 55

References. 56

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