1 Jun 2004

Fiji diabetes foundation says disease a silent killer

12:54 pm on 1 June 2004

Latest global statistics on obesity have put Pacific Islanders near the top of the list.

The International Obesity Task Force's updated figures report that 55 per cent of women in Tonga and 74 per cent of women in Samoa suffer from obesity.

Nauru has the highest figure, with 77 per cent of men and women obese.

The World Health Organisation says the Pacific region also has a high number of diabetics.

The chairman of the Fiji national diabetes foundation, Mahendra Patel, says people should get more exercise and eat more healthily.

Mr Patel says diabetes is brought on through genetics, but it's also an acquired disease.

"Diabetes, when it goes uncontrolled and unchecked, has very serious debilitating effects. It affects our eyesight, it affects blood circulation, through our extremities, like the legs; it makes people impotent. And more importantly, if it goes undetected, our kidneys get affected, and that's the silent killer."

Mahendra Patel says he wants to get prominent people on television to advertise healthy lifestyles.

He says this might include the prime minister of Fiji, who he says undertakes a walk each morning.