Obesity must be caught early

Wednesday October 17, 2018 Written by Published in Health

Obesity is the highest Non Communicable Disease (NCD) faced by the Cook Islands.


The Cook Islands is listed as one of the top 10 countries in the world that suffer from obesity.

Contributing factors are diet and lack of exercise, said Dr Neti Tamarua Herman whose nursing career spans more than 45 years.

She says genetic composition and the environment also increases the risk of developing obesity.

Dr Herman’s presentation yesterday at the 19th South Pacific Nursing forum (SPNF) focused on the “significance of developmental origins of Health and Diseases’’.

The focus now is on guiding and educating young adolescents, particularly young women before they become pregnant.

The healthy start to life begins earlier than we think.

Studies have established that if a woman who is expecting a child is unhealthy or obese there is a higher risk of the child giving in to NCDs.  

Adolescence is a determining point for nutritional, physical activity and intellectual behaviours that continue into adulthood and influence future health.

The Ministry of Health is working in partnership with the Ministry of Education to educate adolescents in the schools, using the Pacific Science for Health Literacy Project (PSHLP)

Using educational opportunities to support teenagers to develop abilities that allow them to take action to improve their NCD risk and promote their health for the future of their children

PSHLP sustainable development goals for the project are: “A world free of the burden of NCDs, improving nutrition and associated factors in childhood and adolescence, empowering teenagers as lifelong learners capable of engaging in current and future issues.’’

Comments from some students participating in schools programme at are: “My family didn’t believe it when I said that we were number one for obesity, because I think my Dad still believes Cook Islanders are still fit, so I showed them the data,” said Student E, Year 11.

“I didn’t notice how serious NCDs were until I saw the data, now we have learnt about why and how, we can do things to prevent contracting diabetes we can make decisions,” said Student B, Year 11.

Objectives of the presentation are: to introduce and make Pacific Nurses aware of the Pacific Science for Health Literacy Project; to acknowledge the significant roles nurses play in the prevention and control of the NCD epidemic in their countries and the pacific and to encourage capacity development amongst our Pacific nurses in the area of research in Health and development in the pacific

“We are focused on implementing programmes to see these goals are achieved.”

The SPNF continues until tomorrow at the National Auditorium.

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