What you should know about nutrition?
Traditional foods typically have a high nutrient content and provide energy needed for active lifestyles. Unfortunately, the Western influence has brought the islands canned meat, soda, white rice, and junk food, all of which are high in calories and low in nutrients. Pacific communities that once were self-sustaining are now dependent upon unhealthy imports for food. Eating habits are established in childhood, and the availability of cheap processed foods (versus local foods) determines what youth eat. Unhealthy food habits lead to obesity, disease and death. With effective food policies we will see a decrease in obesity among children - within 1-2 years - and decrease in disease and death in adulthood.
Currently, much of the food that is easily available, accessible, and affordable in the USAPI, is unhealthy. There are few options for people to choose healthy foods and beverages with the competing demands of work, culture, religion, and social obligations. High rates of non-communicable diseases in the USAPI region suggest that food consumption patterns need to change. To facilitate this movement, policies can be implemented.
Why is it important?
- In the Western Pacific Region obesity prevalence is highest in the Pacific countries, where some of the highest rates of overweight and diabetes are found.
- Poor nutrition can contribute to stress, tiredness and reduced capacity to work.
- Poor dietary choices can lead to conditions related to malnutrition, which include a weakened immune system and long-term chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and gout.
|Obesity Rates (BMI > 30 kg/m2)*||Diabetes Rates*|
|Federated States of Micronesia||43%||32%|
|Republic of the Marshall Islands||45%||28%|