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Childhood Obesity, A Growing Concern In the Pacific

Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the Pacific Islands – it affects the health and wellbeing of children, increases their risk of diabetes and heart disease.
22 Feb 2019 09:33
Childhood Obesity, A Growing Concern In the Pacific
Participants during the inaugural Pacific ECHO Forum at Novotel Nadi.

Dr May, said the organisation (Pacific ECHO Network) was established by Ministries of Health and their partners in the Pacific, in line with the healthy island vision of a Pacific where ‘Children are nurtured in body and mind’

Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the Pacific Islands – it affects the health and wellbeing of children, increases their risk of diabetes and heart disease.

These were the comments of Dr William May, Dean of College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS) at Fiji National University (FNU).
Speaking at Pacific Ending Childhood Obesity (Pacific ECHO) Network’s forum at the Novotel Nadi, Dr May, said the organisation (Pacific ECHO Network) was established by Ministries of Health and their partners in the Pacific, in line with the healthy island vision of a Pacific where “Children are nurtured in body and mind”.

“The ambition of the Network is to stimulate and support collective action in four prioritised areas: physical activity promotion, reducing children’s exposure to the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages, the promotion and evaluation of fiscal policies such as taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and child obesity surveillance,” Dr May said.

Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services-National Advisor NCDs and Director Wellness Fiji, Dr Isimeli Tukana, said obesity was a recognised problem in the country.

“For us to tackle NCDs, we have to strengthen our services where we have identified the need to further upskill our staff in terms of capacity building.”

An interesting view was also shared by the Permanent Secretary Health and Medical Services of Kiribati, Kaaro Neeti.

Ms Neeti said the culture in Kiribati was such where a big baby or child was seen as a sign of a healthy and happy baby.

“We need to do more in Kiribati to change the cultural mindsets of our people. It will be a challenge, but we need to start now,” Neeti said.

Acting Head of Department Primary Care and Nutrition, at CMNHS, FNU, Dr Gade Waqa, said “we as an education institution are embedding NCDs in our curriculum to address issues such as childhood obesity which is an area of concern”.

Currently, eight students are enrolled in the SPHPC’s Masters in Public Health in Non Communicable Diseases.

45 participants, including representatives from 17 Pacific Island Countries and territories, technical agencies, and academics from regional universities, development partners and civil society representatives attended the two day forum.

Source: FNU 

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