Narua is the worlds smallest island nation covering a total of 21 square kilometers (or 8.1 sq miles). Of that 21 sq km, hardly any is off any use at all. You see, the island’s environment got completely destroyed when the entire interior of the island was mined for phosphorous. The only fertile land is located around the edges of the island now. It is a really weird place.
Because of this lack of fertile land, the diet of the Naruans is very limited to say the least. After WW2 the Island was taken under a trusteeship via the United Nations. During this time after WW2 the lives of the natives changed dramatically. There standard of living increased, via the large economic income generated from the phosphor mine and the old way of living was lost.
A Change in Diet
With this change in life, came a change in diet. Reading from the Abstract of a 1959 paper in the Australian Dental Journal,
“The Nauruan diet now consists almost entirely of foods purchased in the stores…”
“…Staple foods appear to be polished rice, bread, canned meats, canned milk and sugar…”
“…A recent dietary survey by Kirk revealed, that sugar contributed 25 per cent of the calories consumed daily; polished riced contributed 20 per cent. The average weekly intake of sugar was found to be 2.8 lb per person”
Hmm… Doesn’t that sound familiar.
So the diet of the Nauruans transformed to now having over 45% of calories from carbohydrates, with 25% of calories coming from sugar for a total of 145.6 lb/year of sugar! (Americans currently eat 142lb/year)
Now according to the above paper, the general health of the Naruans was pretty damn good at the time (1959). Although the papers authors were worried about the vitamin deficiencies in the new diet…
Fast Forward to Today
Eventually the mine pretty much closed, there once prosperous economy sunk. For a while they made themselves a haven for money laundering but eventually that was also shutdown. But that’s not all the troubles the poor Naruan’s had. You see the Naruan’s have some pretty startling statistics in regards to health, they include;
- 90% of adults have a higher BMI than the world average.
- 97% of men and 93% of women are either overweight or obese.
- Have the worlds highest levels of Type 2 Diabetes (40% of the population)
- Have very high incidences of heart disease and kidney failure.
- Have a life expectancy of 58 years for males and 65 years for females.
In other words, their diet killed them.
The current health data on the Naruan people is quite startling but is very indicative of what a high sugar, highly processed, low protein diet will do to the human body. According to the American Diabetes Association, currently 7.8% of the American Population has diabetes. That number is growing rapidly. Heart Disease and Renal Failure are at all time highs and the general western populace is becoming more and more obese.
The people of Narua are a glimpse into the future of the western world if our diet doesn’t change. To lay some stoicism on you, as man was designed to be a social being it therefore means its virtuous (in the stoic sense) to be the best social being you can be. This means that it is your duty, as a social being to help others. The world’s diet needs to change, for everyone’s benefit.