Table of Contents
ISRN Public Health
Volume 2012, Article ID 790602, 7 pages
Research Article

Perceptions, Facilitators, and Barriers to Consumption of Whole Grain Staple Foods among Overweight and Obese Tanzanian Adults: A Focus Group Study

1Ifakara Health Institute, P.O. Box 53, Ifakara, Morogoro, Tanzania
2Department of Sociology and Anthropology, College of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Dar es Salaam, P.O. Box 35052, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
3Department of Physiology, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, P.O. Box 65001, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
4Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3006, Morogoro, Tanzania
5Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Muhimbili National Hospital, P.O. Box 65000, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
6Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
7Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
8Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Received 15 September 2011; Accepted 10 October 2011

Academic Editors: A. Bramesfeld, A. H. Garde, and J. Kirigia

Copyright © 2012 Alfa J. Muhihi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Stiff porridge (ugali) made from unrefined maize flour has been a staple food in Tanzania. Recently, high intakes of refined carbohydrates and energy-dense foods have been documented in urban areas in Tanzania. We assessed cultural acceptability, perceptions and barriers to consumption of unrefined carbohydrates in Tanzania. Methods. Twelve focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted among 44 overweight and obese adults aged 40–65 years. All FGDs were audio-recorded, and QSR N6 software was used for data analysis. Results. Most participants (77%) had tried and liked unrefined maize ugali prior to our study. For unrefined sorghum ugali, 12 participants had tried it before, and 9 of them liked it. Brown rice was found to be unpopular and was considered a diet for diabetic patients; four participants had tried it before and all reported to like it. Sensory appeal, availability, and affordability were key facilitators whereas high cost, scarcity, and negative perceptions toward whole grains were mentioned as barriers to consumption of unrefined carbohydrates. Conclusion. Our study has identified facilitators and barriers to consumption of unrefined carbohydrates in Tanzania. Educational strategies are recommended in order to increase consumption of unrefined carbohydrates and consequently reduce diet-related chronic diseases in Tanzania.