Graduation Year

2013

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Anthropology

Reader 1

Lara Deeb

Reader 2

Piya Chatterjee

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2013 Anne T. Demarest

Abstract

Following rapid economic growth in the 1980s and subsequent rising urbanization in the 1990s, urban centers of India have undergone a “nutrition and lifestyle transformation” regarding dietary choices, cooking methods, food accessibility, and average daily activity level. These changes have been pivotal in the increasing prevalence of obesity and lifestyle–related diseases for Indian adults. With an estimated 71.4 million people living with diabetes, India represents the largest diabetes population worldwide—and numbers are expected to continue growing.

These health conditions are not affecting all populations of India; they are affecting the urban middle and upper classes. This thesis will examine the contributing causes behind shifts in food distribution, marketing and consumption in urban parts of India and how the diets and lifestyles of the middle and upper classes have changed, or reacted to such changes, as a result. It will analyze changing patterns of food consumption, as well as corresponding topics, such as lifestyle shifts and emerging health concerns that have developed as a result of rapid urbanization and globalization. My research will primarily focus on how these issues have impacted women. Women, in their roles as wives and mothers, largely control the domestic sphere, central to which is food; thus, they are the primary determiners of their respective “household nutritional status,” as they are responsible for providing food for, as well as shaping the dietary choices of, their husbands and children.

I also argue that recent processes of globalization have transformed the food consumption culture of India’s urban middle and upper classes. Following the liberalization of India’s economy in 1991 that resulted in the global integration of international food trade, India’s urban female populations are not only reconsidering what they eat, but when, where, and how they eat. Now, they are facing the repercussions of the food choices and corresponding lifestyle changes that they have made irrespective of the increasing health problems and associated risks.

Consequently, India’s urban youth has also begun to reevaluate their consumption habits as a result of globalization processes catalyzed by India’s economic liberalization. These changes in consumption habits have resulted in the emergence of a distinct “youth culture,” in which India’s younger generations are challenging traditional practices and attitudes that older generations have made regarding food and lifestyle choices, with the influence of media at the forefront.

India has undergone a nutrition transition, but at what cost to consumer health and well–being, specifically affluent? This thesis will examine how globalization has led to an emerging consumer, specifically affluent urban females significantly impacted by both the introduction of new technologies and the process of globalization that is affecting cultures around the world.

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