INDEPENDENT NEWS

Nutrition Info on Pacific People Good Start

Published: Wed 25 Aug 1999 08:49 AM
Nutrition Information on Pacific People A Good Place to Start
THE just released report on New Zealanders' nutrition highlights the need for health promotion campaigns targeted at Pacific people, says Ministry of Health Chief Advisor of Pacific Health, Debbie Sorensen.
"The report, NZ Food: NZ People: Key results of the 1997 National Nutrition Survey, highlights particular concerns with the nutrition of Pacific people. It shows that nearly half of all Pacific females and 26 percent of Pacific males are obese. Pacific people are also less likely to eat three serves of vegetables per day. On the positive, pacific females are more likely to have good blood cholesterol values than females in other ethnic groups.
"The survey gives us a good base of New Zealand specific information from which to develop policy initiatives which will make a difference to those in the community.
"There is no easy solution to Pacific people's health problems, some of these problems stem from lifestyle issues such as diet.
"The bottom line is that there needs to be programmes promoting good diet and physical activity specifically targeted at Pacific people, like Pacific Heartbeat, which train community educators and develop resources around nutrition and healthy eating.
"Already Pacific health providers, who provide most Pacific primary care services to Pacific people, have community educators who promote awareness of good messages like: Eat a variety of foods; Choose and prepare foods low in fat, salt and sugar; Keep active; Drink plenty of fluids each day; If you drink alcohol, go easy.
"The real key is supporting the Pacific community to work within their own groups to spread the message in a way that is understandable and acceptable.
"Food, eating and sharing is an integral part of most Pacific culture, and it's important we continue to use the traditional way of meeting but we need to do this in a healthy way," says Ms Sorensen.
"In Pacific culture, the young people learn from their families - from their sisters, brothers, father and uncles. The Pacific community, along with health providers need to make changes so Pacific young people see us making those changes to our lifestyles which will help address these disparities.
"The other positive thing that people need to remember is that a large number of our community are involved in sports such as league and rugby. This is a really positive part of the Pacific community and we need to keep encouraging that.
"Programmes like the Hillary Commission's Push Play campaign are things that Pacific people can benefit from. It 's nothing dramatic, just remember 30 minutes of activity a day and it's these little things that make the difference."
NZ Food: NZ People provides information on food and nutrient intakes, dietary habits and nutrition-related clinical measures of New Zealanders. The survey was four years in development, fieldwork and analysis and looked at 4,636 New Zealanders aged 15 years or above.
The survey contained several key elements: recalling the foods eaten in the previous 24 hours; questions to find out about common food practices; questions to find out if people had difficulty accessing adequate food for a healthy life; a variety of body measures like height, weight, body girths, skinfold thickness, elbow width and blood pressure; and blood samples for tests on cholesterol and iron studies.
ENDS

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