21 Feb 2019

Pacific childhood obesity a public health epidemic

7:48 am on 21 February 2019

The growing problem of obesity among Pacific children is a slow motion disaster, Fiji's Minister of Health says.

Children take part in the Nobesity Samoa programme

Children take part in the Nobesity Samoa programme Photo: RNZI/Sally Round

Speaking at the Forum on Ending Childhood Obesity in Nadi this week, Ifereimi Waqainabete said the growing prevalence of obesity in children aged 11 and younger had become a public health epidemic.

The childhood obesity crisis had escalated dramatically in the past decade, with thirteen countries with the highest prevalence found in the Pacific, he said.

In these countries, two thirds of adults are also clinically obese, Dr Waqainabete said.

The minister called for an acceleration of regional action to halt the obesity epidemic and to promote healthy lifestyles and reforms that can increase life expectancy.

These include exercise, marketing restrictions for unhealthy food and obesity surveillance, he said.

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