Galloping urbanization highlights the food situation in developing countries, mainly because of the way it affects consumption patterns. The gulf between rural and urban dietary habits reflects the different socio-cultural environments, economic activities and life-styles. In urban areas, the traditional food staples tend to be supplanted by rice and wheat, which may have considerable economic repercussions. The general urban trend toward a higher consumption of meat, vegetables and fruit is essentially conditioned by level of income, but as food consumption in these areas is more closely linked to purchasing power, nutritional deprivation among the poor can be greater than in rural areas. Urban food consumption patterns change rapidly, particularly with regard to consumption outside the home which is an important feature of urban life. We can expect more and more urban dwellers in the developing world to be exposed to the so-called "civilization" diseases that are associated with increased consumption of foods of animal origin and highly-refined manufactured foods. We need to improve our understanding of urban food consumption to prepare for future demand, adapt local food production to the urban market and ensure that preferences are not detrimental either to public health or the national economy.