Palm oil in nutrition, health and the environment: Perceptions from a sub-Saharan African setting

We are exploring the misconceptions about the health and ecological impact of palm oil in Cameroon.

The challenge

Palm oil consumption is widespread in Cameroon despite its health and environmental implications; it is rich in saturated fat and causes large-scale deforestation. Palm oil production represents one of the most acute environmental challenges in developing countries: it causes large-scale deforestation, pollution and the loss of critical habitats. The relentless expansion of palm oil plantations also affects local communities by reducing land availability and by contributing to the loss of livelihoods.

Palm oil consumption is widespread in Cameroon where it is used extensively in cooking, either in its natural or refined form. Locally, there appears to be a misunderstanding around its impact on human health. Palm oil is rich in saturated fat, the intake of which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, yet there appears to be a belief among Cameroonians that palm oil is a healthy choice.

What we're doing

We are conducting sustainable dietary interventions aimed at improving health, focusing on decreasing palm oil demand and production. However, before these interventions can be considered, it is essential we understand local knowledge and beliefs around dietary intake. Therefore, this project is exploring common misconceptions about the health and ecological impact of palm oil and related processed foods in Cameroon.

We are hosting a Cameroonian Public Health graduate at the University of Bristol. Training will be provided in clinical research methodology, qualitative research methods, dietary assessment, and dietary behaviour methodology at the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (Nutrition Theme). We are facilitating and supervising the graduate when carrying out a mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) research project around nutrition knowledge and beliefs on their return to Cameroon.

How it helps

This is the start of building capacity in Cameroon to share knowledge and information around the nutritional and environmental issues associated with palm oil.


Lead researcher profile

Dr Sarah Sauchelli Toran, NIHR Bristol BRC Reseach Associate

Partner organisations


  • Cabot Institute for the Environment Innovation Fund to the value of £6,857
Edit this page