20 May 2011

Academic calls for return to older diets for better Pacific health

3:53 pm on 20 May 2011

A Samoan academic in New Zealand is encouraging Pacific Island people to consider returning to traditional diets in an effort to improve their health.

Victoria University PhD graduate, Dr Aliitasi Su'a-Tavila, says 60 years ago, Pacific people were among the healthiest in the world.

She says this was a result of walking rather than driving, and eating a diet of mainly vegetables, fruit, fish and water.

While carrying out field research in Samoa and New Zealand, she noted cooked traditional feasts are markedly different nowadays, and include many processed fatty foods and fizzy drinks.

She says modernisation and globalisation are to blame.

"It contributes significantly on the declining health of Pacific people. Because people, they're now migrating to other parts of the world and they now accessing cash economies. And they also want to do the best for their community, for their guests, for their visitors. They tend to go overboard, when it comes to hosting special occasions."

Dr Aliitasi Su'a-Tavila is furthering her studies with a post doctoral scholarship to study the diets of more Pacific countries.