9 Jul 2014

Pacific's double dietary burden

4:08 pm on 9 July 2014

The Pacific region is facing a double burden of both malnutrition and obesity in children that is likely to have severe consequences in the future.

A technical officer at the World Health Organisation, Dr Wendy Snowden, says children who are either overweight or underweight are more vulnerable to developing non communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiac illness at an earlier age when they become adults.

She says there is strong evidence a poor diet in the first five years of life can have lifelong consequences for health.

"So we actually have the situation in most of the Pacific Island countries of the double burden with problems persisting of the under nutrition and also growing problems of the over nutrition with the obesity and overweight."

Dr Wendy Snowden says the long term effect of poor nutrition on a country's economic development can be very severe.