Contribution of Nutrition to the Health Transition in Developing Countries: A Framework for Research and Intervention


  • Hester H. Vorster D.Sc.,

  • Lesley T. Bourne Ph.D.,

  • Christina S. Venter D.Sc.,

  • Welma Oosthuizen Ph.D.

  • Drs. Vorster, Venter, and Oosthuizen are with the School of Physiology, Nutrition and Family Ecology, PU vir CHO, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa. Dr. Bourne is with the National Urbanisation and Health Research Programme, Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa.


The major focus of public health programs in developing populations is alleviating undernutrition. In South Africa, however, as in many other developing countries, the African population is experiencing rapid urbanization characterized by a double burden of disease in which noncommunicable diseases (NCD) become more prevalent and infectious diseases remain undefeated. The possible mechanisms through which nutrition contributes to the additional vulnerability to NCD experienced by developing populations are explored, and research priorities in this area are identified.