This study concerns a natural experimental evaluation of the impacts of a new hypermarket in Kisumu, Kenya, on food shopping practices, dietary behaviours, physical activity patterns and nutritional status in local residents.

This research will inform the development of policies and programmes to improve access to healthy food.

The types and amount of food people eat result from a complex interaction of factors including policy, culture and access to food. Low- and middle-income countries are in the process of a nutrition transition: populations are moving from eating traditional staples toward cheap and highly processed food.

Currently in Africa and in Kenya, large supermarket chains are expanding into urban settings, helping drive the nutrition transition through enabling local populations to access a wider range of both healthy and unhealthy foods. Prior research in Kenya suggests that living near a supermarket increases the amount of processed food eaten, resulting in higher levels of overweight in adults but lower levels of underweight in children.

This study explores impacts of a new hypermarket in Kisumu on food shopping practices, diet, activity patterns and body size in local residents, as well as related changes in the local food outlets and how these changes are experienced by different socioeconomic groups.

So far, we have geo-located the different food outlets in the local area, and administered surveys as well as measurements of body size with a cross-section of residents of Kisumu and Homabay (the comparator location). We have also collected qualitative data from a subset of households and stakeholders involved in the development of the new hypermarket.

When the hypermarket is open, will perform a second round of data collection in these areas, as well as gathering data from hypermarket shoppers.

This information will be used to inform policy and practice around improving access to healthy food in the context of Africa’s urban transition.

Research objectives

The overall purpose of the study is to address the following primary research question:

  • What are the individual, household and population impacts of a new hypermarket on food shopping practices, dietary behaviours, physical activity patterns and body composition in local residents, across different socioeconomic groups?

It is also answering the following secondary research question:

  • How has the local foodscape changed, do these changes relate to the new hypermarket, and how are they experienced by local residents?


  1. Household survey (sociodemographic characteristics, household food purchasing behaviour, travel behaviour as it relates to food purchasing, household food security).
  2. Individual survey (dietary diversity, physical activity and wellbeing, as well as measured height, weight and waist circumference)
  3. Focus groups with household members exploring the influences on food practices
  4. Stakeholder interviews exploring how decisions to invest in and to site major food retail outlets are made, and projected impacts of new food retail
  5. Foodscape audit entailing systematic on-the-ground data collection to geolocate and categorise food outlets in each of the local study areas


Reseach leads / key contacts:

Study team

  • Oliver Francis (Cambridge, UK)
  • Ebele Mogo (Cambridge, UK)
  • Eleanor Turner-Moss (Cambridge, UK)
  • Charles Lwanga (KEMRI, Kenya)
  • Rosemary Musuva (KEMRI, Kenya)
  • Charles Obonyo (KEMRI, Kenya)
  • Vincent Were (KEMRI, Kenya)