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Abstract

As other West African countries, Mali, is experiencing changes in its lifestyle and diets driven, in part, by urbanization and income growth. We bring new empirical evidence on whether diets in Mali are shifting toward more highly processed foods, with greater shares of food purchased away from home, more sugars and/or potentially obesogenic foods. Specifically, we examine, at a macro-scale, the distribution of consumption across food groups and processing content and analyze whether the distribution varies across urban and rural areas. At a micro-scale, we investigate the extent to which women’s diets meet minimum adequate standards, contain key sources of micronutrients, and include elements such as fats, sugars, and food purchased away from home. We utilize the 2014/15 LSMS/ISA dataset and 2018/19 PREPOSAM dataset. Our findings show that the food budget share allocated to processed foods is greater in urban (60%) than rural area (48%). Consumption of highly processed and sugary foods is relatively low in both urban (15%) and rural (7%) areas. Urban households have a higher diversity score than rural households. Both individual and household diet diversity are subject to seasonality, regardless of their areas of residency. About half of farm women do not meet the minimum adequate dietary diversity during the lean season. Achieving food and nutrition security requires investing in agro-processing and food markets to ensure the provision of affordable, diversified, and healthy foods all year round in both urban and rural areas.

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