Refined foods could be making Pacific children fat
Refined carbohydrates like white rice and bread could be making Pacific children in New Zealand overweight.
Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and rice, could be to blame for overweight Pacific Island children in New Zealand.
The Pacific Islands Families study, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, is based on a survey of more than a thousand children to identify what food they were consuming.
It followed the eating patterns and food intake of a group of children born in 2000 and surveyed them when they were aged four and six.
Research officer, Fa'asisila Savila told Alexa Cook, it is the type of foods children are eating that is the problem.
FA'ASISILA SAVILA: All we're saying is that the food that they are eating are high carbohydrate foods, processed carbohydrates.
ALEXA COOK: And those foods are what you think are potentially causing their obesity?
FS: Well that might be contributing to it. The most common foods except for the fruits are not actually that great. They are largely processed carbohydrates and sugary foods like in the powdered fruit drinks, and carbohydates like noodles, rice, breakfast cereals and bread.
AC: Are the results of this study surprising?
FS:Yeah, it is kind of surprising for me. We sort of anecdotally felt that that would be the case.
AC: With the Ministry of Health's recommendation of five or six servings of grains or breads a day, do you think this is something that needs to be addressed?
FS: I think with the bread, we need to have more of a focus on the types of bread that are being eaten so heading down the track of wholemeal or wheatmeal bread because most of the bread that we found in this study was all white bread.
AC: And do you think white bread, and those refined cabohydrates is where the problem is stemming from?
FS: I think it could be yes. I just wonder whether there needs to be more of a focus on enabling strategies to enable people to eat healthier. There's lots of information out there but it's only valuable to a certain degree and we need to enable people to be able to accomplish those recommendations. What we can't really say about the study is basically trying to develop some strategies around enabling people to eat healthy.
AC: A lot of the media headlines said white bread is to blame for obesity, do you think they're off track?
FS: I do, food is just one part of the whole problem. For me it's an environmental issue. It's about what's available in your neighbourhood and the type of access people have to fresh food. The competition between fresh food stores and takeaway stores is unequal. You walk down the road and you'll see more fast food outlets, especially here in south Auckland, than you would see a fresh fruit and vegetable store. The convenience issue is also something that comes into play there.
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