13 Dec 2010

Nauru struggling to change attitudes toward obesity

6:42 am on 13 December 2010

Nauru's director of public health, Dr Setareki Vatucawaqa, says it will take time to change people's attitudes about foods as the island strives to improve its health statistics.

Dr Vatucawaqa has taken issue with the description of Nauru as the world's fattest nation.

He says the information is based on body mass index figures which are inaccurate and misleading.

Dr Vatucawaqa says other issues, such as ethnicity, age, sex, and location need to be taken into consideration.

But he does accept the country has health problems arising from obesity, which he puts down to lifestyle, and a long dependence on imported processed food.

"But things are changing and we are optimistic and hopeful that things will change for the better in the immediate and long term future, especially with support from international agencies and donor agencies, because let's face it, processed food and supermarket foods are attractive. Human nature is such that we like attractive things, so that will continue to be a challenge for us."