26 Sep 2005

Tonga Health Ministry proactive about obesity problem

3:23 pm on 26 September 2005

Tonga's Health Ministry admits the country has an obesity problem but says it's being proactive about addressing it.

The World Health Organisation's latest estimates say Nauru and Tonga have the highest incidence of obesity in the world, with nine out of every 10 adults overweight.

Tonga's Head of Public Health promotions and Non-communicable diseases, Dr Viliame Puloka, says the estimates are no surprise to him.

Dr Puloka says Tonga's WHO obesity rating reflects the fact that it is more active than many other countries in monitoring the problem and producing statistics.

But he says Tonga has been promoting physical activity and healthy eating, and is looking at legislation for health protection.

"Government would provide space for people to relax and play sports, maybe impose some tax, making the food causing obesity difficult for people to get access to, and at the same time making the ones that are healthy more accessible and the costs where people can afford."