27 Mar 2009

Pacific people far more likely to be obese - report

7:09 am on 27 March 2009

A new report says Pacific Islanders in New Zealand are two and a half times more likely to be obese than the general population.

The Obesity Action Coalition report concludes that many Pacific people have unhealthy eating habits because they cannot afford to buy nutritious, non-fatty foods.

The lead author of the report says central and local government must regulate healthy food supplies to help beat malnutrition and obesity.

Professor Elaine Rush, from Auckland University of Technology, likens healthy food regulation to laws requiring safety belts in cars and says families buying poor-quality food risk heart disease and diabetes.

The chief executive of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Colin Tukuitonga, says Pacific Island communities are making some progress. But he says the community must also work on health problems to effect change.