INTRODUCTION: The healthy plate model is considered one of the practical approaches to reduce the average portion of staple food in main meals, consequently reducing the risks associated with diabetes and other Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs). Despite its potential benefits, studies on the implementation of the healthy plate model are limited in Africa. An inquiry explored barriers to implementation, uptake, and scaling up of the healthy plate model among street food vendors and consumers in three districts of Dar-es-Salaam city in Tanzania.
METHODS: A qualitative research design was adopted. Qualitative data collection techniques were employed including; Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) with purposefully selected food and nutrition stakeholders at the National, Regional, District and Ward levels. Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted with purposefully selected street food consumers and vendors. A total of (13) KIIs were conducted as well as (6) FGDs with street food vendors (2 FGDs) and consumers (4 FGDs). Interview data was managed using Nvivo 12 Software and analyzed thematically.
RESULTS: Three key themes emerged from participants' accounts: (i) strategic policy barriers, (ii) food production and preparation environment barriers (producers and vendors), and (iii) individual barriers (consumers and vendors). The strategic policy barriers included absence of guidelines and regulations that focus on NCDs linked to nutrition and lack of education guidance for vendors and consumers. The food production and preparation environment barriers included safety and risks concerns regarding the quality of water used for irrigation and washing fruits and vegetables and the areas where vegetables and fruits are grown and prepared. Individual barriers included low consumer income, knowledge on nutrition, unhealthy eating practices and; low vendors' knowledge as well as low investment capital.
CONCLUSION: Implementation, uptake and scaling up of the healthy plate model for street food consumers in Dar es Salaam City continues to be constrained by barriers in policy, food production and preparation environment, and individual obstacles. Strengthening of food and nutrition policies, ensuring safety of the food production and preparation environment and, consumer and vendor awareness creation and income generation efforts, provide useful entry points for the successful scaling up of a healthy plate model. This could consequently contribute towards prevention of diet related NCDs, including diabetes.