Tuesday, December 30

The fat of the land

In 2007 the Forbes Organisation published a list of the world’s fattest countries. The Cook Islands weighed in at number three with 90.9% of the population overweight, just below Nauru (94.5%) and the Federated States of Micronesia (91.1%)..
Eight of the top ten countries were Pacific islands with only Kuwait and the United States, at 8 and 9 respectively, pushing their way in.
According to Forbes, “Almost 13,000 of the Cook Islands’ 14,000 people over 15 years old are overweight. Despite diets that include coconut, fish and tropical fruits--the islands have a strong agricultural industry--many of those living on the country’s remote outer islands seek cheaper and less nutritious food options.”
Not just on the outer islands!
It’s a growing problem. Twenty or so years ago there were plenty of portly adults but most of the kids were skinny. They tended to bulk up once they left school. Nowadays, though, there are podgy youngsters everywhere you look. Even cultural dance team members are beefier than they used to be. Still great movers but a few more shakers than in the past.
As in the rest of the world the problem stems from poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. The public health department in Rarotonga runs a more or less continuous programme aimed at getting people to eat sensibly and exercise more. Their ‘vaevae challenge’ is always well-supported with teams of up to six people vying for points by exercising regularly. In fact even without the challenge you can see people of all sizes and ages walking the roads of Rarotonga in the mornings and evenings.
Overeating is the main problem and this holiday season won’t have helped. In spite of the boat not arriving until after Christmas, shops were still full of cakes, biscuits, puddings and chocolates.
Fish, coconuts and tropical fruit are still on the menu but I don’t think everybody realises that you’re supposed to eat sensible food INSTEAD of - not as well as – junk!
The video shows a very well supported Olympic fun run-walk-whatever last year. Heaps of individuals and teams turned out and it was a way of earning extra points for the vaevae challenge.