The increasing burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in Bangladesh can be attributable to rapid urbanization and coinciding changes in lifestyle accompanied by nutrition transition. The objective of this study is to explore respondents' lived experiences and perceptions relating to NCDs and nutrition change in an urban slum community in Dhaka. Qualitative methods were employed to explore a general understanding of behavior related to NCDs among residents of the slum community. We conducted key informant interviews of six men and seven women of various backgrounds and five focus group discussions to focus salient topics emerged from the interviews. The transcriptions of the audio-recordings were thematically analyzed, using the constant comparison method. Four major themes emerged: (1) financial hardship influencing health; (2) urbanized lifestyle affecting diet; (3) tobacco and sweetened tea as cornerstones of social life; and (4) health-seeking behavior utilizing local resources. One notable finding was that even with general economic improvement, respondents perceived poverty to be one of the major causes of NCDs. A promising finding for potentially curbing NCDs was the current trend for women to walk for exercise contrary to the commonly held notion that urban dwellers generally lead sedentary lifestyles. This study described how urban slum dwellers in Dhaka, experiencing a transition from a traditional to urbanized lifestyle, perceived their daily practices in relation to NCDs and nutrition. Our research revealed both adverse and encouraging elements of perceptions and behavior related to NCDs, which may contribute to the optimal design of NCD prevention and health promotion programs.
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