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About the Tribe
Importance of Animal Products
Importance of Plants
Transition to Industrialized Food Products
The main Indian migration to South Africa's Natal region occurred in the late 1800s, as indentured workers on sugar, tea and acacia plantations. In the 1950s, they also worked as laborers in fields and mines, but high rates of obesity and diabetes developed. Their diet was rich in “highly refined sugar, foods containing highly refined flour, and polished rice.” These Indian South Africans experienced a “veritable explosion of diabetes”; “one in three middle-aged men were diabetic.” Many consumed low-calorie diets (e.g., 1600–2000 daily) despite physically active work. Per capita sugar consumption was 80 pounds vs. 12 pounds in India. In Natal, diabetes prevalence was 30-fold higher than in India (113, 114). A similar relationship was found comparing urban Zulus and their rural relatives. Rural Zulus consumed 280 more calories per day (1% were from sugar) than urban Zulus (16% were from sugar). Diabetes prevalence was dramatically higher in urban than rural Zulu speakers (113, 115, 116).