Pacific students, teachers call on WHO to help prevent obesity
Students and teachers from around the region are calling on the WHO to help change local policies that would prevent obesity.
Students and teachers from around the region are calling on the World Health Organisation to help change local policies that would prevent obesity.
The WHO's Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity has been meeting with students and regional leaders in Auckland this week to discuss ways to combat the problem.
Indira Moala has more.
A recent WHO report shows the world's nine fattest nations are Pacific Island countries and New Zealand ranks 30th. Its Pacific population has the highest rate of obesity in the country, with more than a quarter of children and two thirds of adults rated obese. According to a 2013 national health survey, children living in the most deprived areas are three times as likely to be obese as children living in richer suburbs. In a first for the WHO anti obesity commission, four commissioners travelled to Tamaki college in South Auckland to hear ideas for fighting obesity from young people themselves. One of the students Fiu Niko called on them to help push policies that would regulate fast food restaurants in low-income suburbs.
FIU NIKO: We don't have the money to buy healthy food that will be great for our diets. That's why these outlets and fast food companies target our areas because they know they will make money over here, rather than going to Remuera.
Another Tamaki College student Rachel Kaitu'u says it feels wrong that she can't afford to eat healthily.
RACHEL KAITU'U: The shop down there, the star drinks are one dollar. Like, if I was ever thirsty I would go there because it's cheaper. And the water over there is like, three dollars.
The consultation also included a skype link up with students and teachers from Tonga and the Cook Islands. Delaney Yaqona is the Deputy Principal from Nukutere College in the Cook Islands.
DELANEY YAQONA: The issue of child and adolescent health including factors such as overweight and obesity is important to teachers. We work towards holistic well-being of young people. I was pleased to see acknowledgement of the role of learning, in particular scientific and health literacy in the report, but concern at the lack of directives health authorities to ensure that all school-based interventions are co-constructed with education.
Many students were surprised to learn that according to a WHO report, obesity was the world's biggest killer. Patricia Tiatia from Tangaroa College threw out a challenge about the school curriculum to the Ministry of Education officials who accompanied the commissioners.
PATRICIA TIATIA: In health we do stuff about STI's and stuff. Like, using condoms and stuff. And like that should be the same with obesity, that should be just as important as it. And probably, that could decrease if we have it compulsory within the school curriculum.
The Commission's co-chair Sir Peter Gluckman says community and government interaction will make a difference to the fight against obesity in the Pacific.
SIR PETER GLUCKMAN: We've heard more real practical suggestions from the Pacific Islands people through (?) over the last two days and it shows again that listening and talking to the people on the ground is really important in making policy.
Another commissioner Colin Tukuitoga says the WHO is serious about taking on what the youth have to say.
COLIN TUKUITONGA: I mean this is the first time we're meeting with young people anywhere in the world, so it is significant and it's obviously a big issue and we want to hear from them about their concerns about weight, about body size, about image, about health and all of that sort of stuff.
Sir Peter Gluckman says the views aired will go towards the Commission's report due at the end of the year.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: