13 Aug 2010

Obesity a major issue in American Samoa, Flying Doctors find

7:56 am on 13 August 2010

A member of the Flying Doctors of America team providing services in American Samoa says obesity is to blame for many of the sleep apnoea cases in the territory.

Dr. Rao Mikkilineni says so far he's seen 20 patients weighing more than 136 kilogrammes, with body mass indexes of 32 or higher.

Sleep apnoea is a condition in which a person's airways becomes constricted during sleep, leading to difficulty breathing.

Untreated cases can lead to greater risks of high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes and other diseases.

Dr. Rao Mikkilineni says sleep studies are usually recommended though no such facility extends in the territory.

But he says dieting and exercise can help.

"It's not an easy problem to solve. Generally simple things, sometimes when we counsel people, they have to be dedicated and losing weight, exercise, diet. They have to do those things."