Pacific people find healthy food inaccessible: report

Pacific people in New Zealand can't always afford to eat healthy food which could lower their high obesity rates, a report released today says.

The report, Food Security for Pacific Peoples in New Zealand, from the Obesity Action Coalition, said Pacific New Zealanders were finding it harder to access healthy and affordable food which meets their cultural and social needs.

Healthy food was more expensive, not as easy to access and often not as tasty as less healthy food, the report said.

Pacific people were two and a half times more likely to be obese than the general population, and local and central governments must actively support access to healthy food, the report's lead author, Professor Elaine Rush from AUT University, said.

She said obesity, a prime risk factor of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, was a form of malnutrition, as it was a result of eating too much food with cheap but empty calories and too few nutrients.

Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs chief executive Dr Colin Tukuitonga said community based interventions, such as working with takeaway outlets to increase healthy options and church-based healthy lifestyle programmes, showed promise.

"We know that health and social problems are more likely to be addressed if affected populations are actively involved in designing and delivering preventive and treatment services.

"But it is still essential that action is taken across all sectors of society."

Dr Tukuitonga was formerly head of the World Health Organisation's Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.


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