By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV Online
The Republic of Nauru, is the smallest island nation in the world, with a population of just under 10,000 inhabitants. Although small, compared to other Pacific Island countries, the people of Nauru now face a major health crisis, in that the majority of its people are obese.
Recently released data from the World Health Organisation placed the tiny island republic at the top of the list of obese countries, in the world today.
As documented in the Global Status of Non Communicable Disease’ report, Nauru is listed as the country with the most overweight population in the world. Over 96% of men and 93% of women are classified as overweight, while 85% of men and 80% of women falling into the obese category.
The trend is not only being experienced by Nauru, but across the Pacific, where more islanders are becoming obese and at greater risk of contracting non communicable diseases.
According to a health specialist from the UNDP, Ferdinand Strobel, developing nations in the Pacific facing, what’s being labelled as the world’s greatest epidemic of obesity and diabetes, have the Western lifestyle they’ve adapted, to thank.
With obesity rates at an all-time high, Pacific islanders are said to be “paying the price” for choosing to consume more imported foods from developed countries and adapt western cooking and unhealthy dishes, in place of the healthier Pacific diet, comprised of eating vegetables and seafood.
Worldwide obesity has doubled since 1980, according to the Global Status Report released by the World Health Organisation this week. In 2014, more than 600 million adults were obese and nearly two billion were overweight. Approximately 42 million children younger than five were overweight, or obese, in 2013.
A report in late 2014 cited growing concerns for the obesity rates of Pacific countries and territories. The report by Pacific health experts stated that, “the swapping of the traditional Pacific diet, which mostly consisted of fish, other seafood’s, and organically grown vegetables, for western food menus, was to be held partly accountable for the trend of obesity in the region.”
A study released last year reported the same findings; and more recently, the U.K.’s Clinic Compare created a map, which is based on international obesity statistics by the CIA, lists Pacific Island nations—American Samoa, Nauru, and Cook Islands—as the most obese countries in the world.
Pacific health experts were also concerned with the increase of cheap-meat imports, like ‘lamp flaps’ that have become popular with island people. Because the fatty meats were affordable, more Pacific islanders prefer to purchase and consume them, without any regard to the health risks posed by the fatty foods.
The report, ‘Global Status of Non Communicable Disease’ defines ‘overweight’ as adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 25 and defines ‘obese’ as more than 30. The BMI figure is calculated using a person’s weight and height.
Apart from Nauru, the report found that the 115-island archipelago of Seychelles, with a population of 90, 000, has the most overweight and obese, men and women, in the sub-Saharan region of Africa.
South Africa, Lesotho, Mauritania and Mauritius have tipped the scales as the countries with the most obese females in the region. And Seychelles, Cameroon, Mauritius, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa are reported to have the most overweight and obese men in the region.
Health experts are now encouraging people from these nations to “ditch unhealthy takeaway foods, soft drinks and juices in favour of healthier options.”
Larger portions of vegetables and salads are also being encouraged to replace oily foods and rice, with more physical activities.
“Making such dietary changes relies on decisions by individuals but also on public policy to ensure that healthy food is available and affordable, including in schools, canteens, etc,” the report stated.
Read other article:
Cheap food imports causing diabetes and obesity in the Pacific