East African Food Habits

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Background

These webpages on "African Food Cultures", developed by PhD student Verena Raschke, from Vienna University, is the first of its kind on the web.

Verena Raschke is under the supervision of Prof. Ibrahim Elmadfa (Head of the Institute of Nutritional Sciences of the University of Vienna, Austria) and HECs (Healthy Eating Club) Professor Mark Wahlqvist and HECs Dr Antigone Kouris-Blazos who are also affiliated with the Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre of the Monash Asia Institute, Monash University in Melbourne, Clayton, Victoria Australia.

The foundation for this project was made possible through Professor Oltersdorf (Gremany), who provided this unique data set from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania from the 1930s to 1960s.

EAST AFRICA MAP

Dietary surveys, Nutritional status surveys carried out from the 1930s to 1970s


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Professor Oltersdorf was involved in nutrition research in the 1960s carried out through the Max Planck Nutrition Research Unit placed in Bumbuli in Tanzania. The fundamental step for the research Unit in East Africa in the 1930s was commenced by a German scientist (Professor Dr Heinrich Kraut) who was very interested in nutrition of third world countries.

Tanzania was selected as a study area because it was German East Africa in former times which lead to relations between Germany and East Africa. Furthermore, a connection exsisted between the the German and East African church and missions. For this reason the Bumbuli hospital area, in Tanzania, with the first medical training centre, was selected as the main reserarch centre during this time. In the early 1970s the Max Planck Nutrition Unit in Bumbuli was closed and handed over to the Tanzanian government.

The traditional knowledge of food habits in Africa is being lost. There is clearly an imperative need for documentation, compilation, and dissemination of this rapidly eroding wealth of information. Such knowledge is likely essential in abating current projected non-communicable disease (NCD) trends for Africa, and the rest of the world. This information can and should be utilized by the global community, for improving the current globalized food culture, which is largely responsible for the obesity and diabetes epidemics plaguing the world. The online collection, could be instrumental as a potential source of information on traditional African food habits.

Future efforts should contribute to honing knowledge of traditional food habits within this region, and throughout Africa. Maintaining this traditional knowledge may be crucial for improving counteracting projected trends for NCD throughout Africa the rest of the world.

 

Created by Verena Raschke 2005 / Contact