A socio-cultural study of type II diabetes mellitus among the Indian population in Reservoir Hills, Durban.
Whereas there has been much interest amongst anthropologists in the West in studying diseases such as Type II Diabetes Mellitus, there appears to be a paucity of local anthropological studies that analyse the social and cultural dimensions of this disease. In this country, according to the South African Diabetes Association, this disease is most prevalent in the South African Indian population. This study focuses on the South African Indian community in the suburb of Reservoir Hills, Durban, and examines socio-cultural issues around diabetes. Previous research conducted overseas has demonstrated a strong link: between rapid socio-economic changes that affect diet and lifestyle, and increases in the incidence of this disease among particular communities. This dissertation represents an attempt to: 1. Document salient features of the lifestyle, food beliefs and habits of the Indian population. 2. Discuss significant changes in lifestyle and diet that may have contributed to the rise of this disease among the Indian population. 3. Through an analysis of common discourse, analyse and record the thoughts and feelings of research participants regarding the disease and the manner in which they cope with diabetes. Case studies are used to support the author's arguments and an attempt is made to use the research findings to identify ways for community members to better cope with the disease. A number of suggestions and recommendations from medical experts with an interest in diet and lifestyle on prevention and management of diabetes are included in the study. The author argues that a few relatively simple lifestyle/diet changes may have the effect of lowering the high incidence of diabetes in the South African Indian population.