Study Site: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Institutions: Muhimbili University College of Health & Allied Science, Sokoine University of Agriculture, the University of Dar es Salaam, Muhimbili National Hospital, the Ifakara Health Research
Development Center, and Mbeya Referral Hospital
Principal Investigator: Dr. Marina Njelekela
Tanzania at a Glance
Area: 947,300 sq km
Population: 44.9 million
Median age: 18 years
Urban population: 26% of total population
Life expectancy: male: 59.48 yr ; female: 62.09 yr
Diabetes prevalence: 1.79 million cases, 8.0% (national prevalence)
Per capita GDP: $1,600
Languages: Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguja (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages.
The Portuguese dominated the region until the Arabs regained control in 1698. The introduction of cassava, a root crop that has become an important staple in the Tanzanian diet, and groundnuts (peanuts) were probably their most significant contributions.
Meat is not widely consumed in comparison with other areas of the continent. Cattle are normally slaughtered only for very special occasions, such as a wedding or the birth of a baby. When meat is consumed, however, nyama choma (grilled meat) and ndayu (roasted, young goat) are most popular.
The Tanzanian diet is largely based on starches such as millet, sorghum, beans, pilaf, and cornmeal. A meal that could be considered the country’s national dish is ugali, a stiff dough made of cassava flour, cornmeal (maize), millet, or sorghum, and usually served with a sauce containing either meat, fish, beans, or cooked vegetables. It is typically eaten out of a large bowl that is shared by everyone at the table. Wali (rice) and various samaki (fish) cooked in coconut are the preferred staples for those living in coastal communities.
- Muhihi A, Gimbi D, Njelekela M, Shemaghembe E, Mwambene K, Chiwanga F, Malik V, Wedick NM, Spiegelman D, Hu F, Willet WC. Consumption and acceptability of whole grain staples for lowering markers of diabetes risk among overweight and obese Tanzanian adults. Globalization and Health, 2013; 9:26.
- Muhihi A, Gimbi D, Njelekela M, Shemaghembe E, Mwambene K, Malik V, Spiegelman D, Hu F, Willet WC. Perceptions, Facilitators and Barriers to Consumption of Whole Grain Staple Foods among Overweight and Obese Tanzanian Adults: A Focus Group Study. ISRN Public Health, Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 790602, 7 pages.
The World Factbook, 2013-2014. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013.
IDF Diabetes Atlas, 6th Edition. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2014.