SIDS member states high on world obese list due to unhealthy diets

PHOTO: Fresh Samoan agricultural products on display at last weeks Agriculture Show

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – THURSDAY 01 NOVEMBER 2018: Shocking data recently released showed that all Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are on the list of high obesity in the world. This has led to the call from members to include health in the list of priorities in the SAMOA Pathway under review in Samoa this week.

The Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Sub-regional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands, Eriko Hibi said the top ten countries on the world obesity list are all Pacific island nations, Samoa included.

“This shows that the issue of obesity and nutrition is a structural systemic and requires certain public policies intervention,” said Hibi.

The Pacific and SIDS member states are facing a serious dilemma which moves SIDS last year to launch a Global Action Campaign on Food Security and Nutrition to address obesity.

Hibi believes that it is much cheaper to eat unhealthy over healthy food.

“It is very expensive to buy vegetables from the market compared to a cup of noodles or other processed food from the store,” she said.

FAO’s Sub-regional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands, Eriko Hibi with the local produce at last weeks Agriculture Show

Hibi commended the Samoa traditional way of underground cooking – Umu however people only tend to appreciate Umu on special occasions or Sundays.

She said in a smaller population and small production base, it is very difficult to come up with the economy of skills, and when these small island states produce food on their own, the cost is much higher than the imported food.

As a result, most of the food produced locally in SIDS countries are not competitive in terms of price, said Hibi.

FAO is working very closely with the Agricultural, Fisheries, Food Safety Processing sectors to ensure that nutritious food is available and affordable.

She said all different sectors within SIDS countries have responsibilities to work on this and not only for the health sector.

Hibi believes that before doing anything else, people’s health come first and that means there must be an abundance of healthy and affordable food produced at the right price.