Overweight and obesity has emerged as a concern among children of primary-school-age, along with worrisome trends in associated non-communicable diseases in early childhood.

Persistence of Child Malnutrition in South Africa (CHILDREN)

While self-reported hunger of children has reduced in South Africa, stunting has remained high for a middle-income country, and largely unchanged since 1993. Similarly, the prevalence of some micronutrient deficiencies has improved, but not to the levels that would be expected given both South Africa’s wealth and the introduction of fortification and supplementation programmes.

In addition, overweight and obesity has emerged as a concern among children of primary-school-age, along with worrisome trends in associated non-communicable diseases (NCD) in early childhood. This programme seeks to identify trends, determinants and consequences of food insecurity for mothers and children in South Africa, as well as propose policy and innovative solutions to address these challenges.

Professor Julian May


Related Articles & publications
How many malnourished children are there in South Africa? What can be...

Despite important strides in the fight against poverty in the past two decades, child poverty remains widespread and persistent, particularly in Africa. Poverty in all its dimensions is detrimental for early childhood development and often results in unreversed damage to ...

The predictors of different measures of dietary diversity among one-year-olds in South...

Objectives: A study was undertaken to compare a range of dietary diversity indicators and their predictors among one-year-olds. Design: Multivariate regression analysis was employed, where dietary diversity indicators are the outcome variables and the main predictor variables are access to ...


In this report, we examine the determinants of child malnutrition using the Birth to Twenty data, a cohort study of children born in Soweto-Johannesburg in 1990. In particular, we focus on the causes of low height-for-age, or stunting, at age two, ...

Principal Investigators

Professor Julian May

UWC based Professor Julian May, is director of the CoE in Food Security, and the UNESCO Chair in African Food...

Social Protection for Food Security

One in five children display stunted growth. Yet since South Africa's democratic transition in 1994, social protection programmes have increased dramatically.

Food Politics and Cultures: Humanities Approaches to Food

The POLITICS Programme explores human relationships to food, the power dynamics around food production and access and the meanings that food acquires in particular cultural and social contexts.

Food Governance and Policy Reform

The POLICY programme facilitates dialogue between researchers, the community and policy makers to inform policy making and shape research.

Shelves, Baskets and Plates

The PLATES programme investigates the dietary intake of poor and vulnerable South Africans, and details the food environments that shape food preferences and choices.

Food safety hazards that affect food security and how these can be...

If food is not handled, stored, distributed and prepared correctly, it can become contaminated and no longer be fit for human consumption.

Innovation and Technology for Enterprise Development

Organisational and technological innovations of food systems can help maintain and improve livelihoods through enterprise development for food security.

Understanding the National and Global Food System

The SYSTEMS programme is concerned with the structure, dynamics and influences on the South African food system and how this is changing.