Sustainable Diets and Food Systems



The nutrition transition in South Africa is more evident than ever, and a greater focus on healthy diets from a sustainable food system is indispensable. High levels of food insecurity and under- and malnutrition co-exist with rising levels of obesity and related diseases, burdening the country’s public health system. At the same time, highly industrialized and commercialized food systems generate large greenhouse gas emissions and alter ecosystems towards biodiversity loss, deforestation, soil erosion, chemical contaminations and water shortage.

The research focus on sustainable diets and food systems entails multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches across different disciplines, such as nutrition, public health, agriculture, economics, environmental science, consumer science, sociology and law. Key research areas are:


Food systems l Sustainable diets l Food environments l Agriculture-nutrition linkages l Sustainable food & nutrition security l Local foods l Traditional & indigenous foods


The team

Dr Nicole Claasen – Leader of the research area

Dr Kylah Forbes-Biggs – Post-doctoral fellow

Ms Mildred Thomas – Project assistant


Current research projects

Sustainable diets, local food systems and rural development in South Africa – A case study of Vaalharts (Principal Investigator: Dr Nicole Claasen, Collaborators: Prof Mieke Faber, MRC South Africa; Dr Marinka van der Hoeven, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands).

Food environments, socio-economic and nutritional indicators among people in Potchefstroom, South Africa (Principal Investigator: Dr Nicole Claasen, Collaborators: Prof Cornelie Nienaber-Roussow, CEN, NWU).


Media releases

Claasen, N. & Thomas, M. 2018. SABC news.


Study with us

When enrolling in our MHSc in Transdisciplinary Health Promotion or for  the PhD in Transdisciplinary Health Science, you are able to set your research focus towards sustainable diets and food systems. We have a number of research topics to choose from or we support the realisation of your own ideas.


Additional resources & -links (Click here)


For further information contact Dr Nicole Claasen.