10 Jun 2014

Tonga NGO wants plan to curb obesity

10:26 am on 10 June 2014

The Civil Society in Tonga says a number of measures need to be put in place if the growing obesity issue there is ever to be tackled.

Recent figures released in the Global Burden of Disease Study shows half of the adult population in Tonga is obese, making it the country with the highest proportion of obesity in the world.

The society's chair, Drew Havea, says economic pressure, reliance on imported food and a culture where being of a large size is seen as positive have contributed to high obesity rates.

Mr Havea says more and more women understand the importance of exercise and healthy eating, but men need more encouragement.

"There's a lot of work that still needs [to be] coordinated. From awareness to motivation to understanding our health, looking at taxing excess, looking at food policy, encouraging just living healthy."

Drew Havea says importing less and growing organic crops could help reduce obesity rates in Tonga.