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Why rural India shifted to sugars and processed foods


Source: DTE

 Context: A research study conducted by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has revealed that rural families in India are increasingly relying on carbohydrates and sugary processed foods instead of protein and micronutrient-rich options.


Key Findings:

  • The shift from traditional diets is attributed to factors like limited access to such nutrient-rich foods and the ease of sourcing cheaper alternatives.
  • This transition is exacerbated by the decreasing availability of wild foods from forests, which used to be part of their diet.
  • The research also points out that rural-to-urban migration leads to changes in dietary habits as people are exposed to packaged foods heavily promoted in cities.
  • Sugary processed foods become popular due to their convenience and longer shelf life compared to fresh fruits and vegetables.



  • The study calls for policy interventions to strengthen nutrition-sensitive food supply chains.
  • ICRISAT suggests solutions that include raising awareness about nutrition and educating people about healthy eating habits and the significance of locally grown foods.
  • The study underscores the importance of traditional farming practices and local markets in ensuring access to nutritious food in rural areas.