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Approximately 90-95% of black individuals and 20-25% of white individuals throughout the world will have a partial or complete lactose intolerance. Most often people of African, Asian, and Mediterranean descent have it.

Most humans, like other mammals, gradually lose the intestinal enzyme lactase after infancy and with it the ability to digest lactose, the principle sugar in milk. At some point in prehistory, a genetic mutation occurred and lactase activity persisted in a majority of the adult population of North and Central Europe, and in some ethnic groups around the Mediterranean and Near East, in Noth Africa, and on the Indian subcontinent are those that have developed a gentic mutation to allow them to digest the lactose in milk. allowing carriers to have milk as a nutritional resource, especially useful in times of food shortage.

These people share the longest known tradition of dairying, since humans first domesticated livestock and practiced milk-based pastoralism (6000–9000 years ago), making milk abundant for adults.

Descendants of these polutations carried this genetic mutation with them to Noth America and Austalia.

For the majority of the world's populations, however, the absence of genetic challenge has meant that this genetic change did not occurred.

Map of Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance by group[]

Human groups Individuals Examined Percent Intolerant

Allele Frequency

Allele frequency is the proportion of all copies of a gene that is made up of a particular gene variant . In other words, it is the number of copies of a particular allele divided by the number of copies of all alleles at the genetic place in a population.

Basques 85 0.3% N/A
Dutch N/A 1% N/A
Swedes N/A 2% 0.14
Europeans in Australia 160 4% 0.20
Northern Europeans and ScandinaviansScandinavians N/A 5% N/A
Danes N/A 5% N/A
British N/A 5–15% 0.184-0.302
Swiss N/A 10% 0.316
European Americans 245 12% 0.346
Tuareg N/A 13% N/A
Germans N/A 15% N/A
Eastern Slavs (Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians) N/A 15% N/A
Austrians N/A 15–20% N/A
Northern French N/A 17% N/A
Finns 134 18% 0.424
Central Italian 65 19% N/A
Indians N/A 20% N/A
African Tutsi N/A 20% 0.447
African Fulani N/A 23% 0.48
Bedouin N/A 25% N/A
Portuguese 102 35% N/A
Southern Italian 51 41% N/A
African American N/A 45% N/A
Saami N/A 25–60% N/A
Northern Italian 89 52% N/A
North American Hispanic N/A 53% N/A
Balkans N/A 55% N/A
Mexican American N/A 55% N/A
Cretans N/A 56% N/A
African Maasai 21 62% N/A
Southern French N/A 65% N/A
Greek Cypriots N/A 66% N/A
Bangladesh N/A 70% N/A
Jews, Mizrahi (Iraq, Iran, etc) N/A 85% N/A
Jews, North American N/A 68.8% N/A
Jews, Sephardic N/A 62% N/A
Jews, Yemenite N/A 44% N/A
Sicilians 100 71% N/A
South Americans N/A 65–75% N/A
Rural Mexicans N/A 73.8% N/A
African Americans 20 75% 0.87
Kazakhs 195 76.4%
Lebanese 75 78% N/A
Central Asians N/A 80% N/A
Alaskan Eskimo N/A 80% N/A
Australian Aborigines 44 85% 0.922
Inner Mongolians 198 87.9%
African Bantu 59 89% 0.943
Asian Americans N/A 90% N/A
Northeastern Han Chinese 248 92.3%
Chinese 71 95% 0.964
Southeast Asians N/A 98% N/A
Thai 134 98% 0.99
Native Americans 24 100% 1.00