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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Polynesians are fat - a sweeping generalisation

"Pacific Island nations have the most overweight people in the world, according to the most recent estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Eight out of the ten of the "fattest" countries are in the Pacific, the research found.
The top four - Nauru, Micronesia, the Cook Islands and Tonga - all have more than 90 per cent of their population defined as obese. "
Gary Moller comments:
There is unquestionably a serious world-wide obesity problem that is only going to get much worse before it gets better and that will not happen for several generations, if the latest crop of kiddies coming online right now are anything to go by. Polynesians are at the top end of the problem - there is no argument about that. But let's kill some stereotypes:

We have discussed BMI in a previous posting about how heavy boned and muscled people are penalised by the one-size fits-all limitations of BMI measures. Polynesians, being among the most naturally well muscled and big boned races on the planet are immediately at a disadvantage with regards to BMI. That does not mean to say Many, if not the majority, have a serious problem with obesity.

The solutions are simple but extremely difficult to implement because one comes up against unhelpful stereotypes and health resources are almost exclusively locked up in the ambulance services (Drugs, surgery, hospitalisation). But, for the moment, let's dispel these broad-brush misconceptions that all Polynesians are fat. There are many, many exceptions that include my immediate and extended family.

Polynesians that exercise regularly and who eat well make exceptional physical specimens that make scrawny people like me very poor examples of humanity. The holiday photos above show Alofa with the kind of food that produce a strong and healthy human. You will see, despite her high BMI, she is thin, but very strong, muscled and in glowing health. She, and the rest of her family, is not the obese and sickly stereotype of the Polynesian. The photo of Alama, our son who will never get skin cancer (btw) is significant because it shows a lean, muscular 7 year old with a narrow waist and a broad barrel chest. Incidentally, outside of Africa, this physique is most unusual nowadays. The swiiming togs he is wearing are sized for a three year old! My, how children have changed!

Good health is not about race - It is all about lifestyle - plenty of sun, exciting and stimulating exercise and lot's of good food. It is about choosing to walk to school and riding a bike to work, rather than to drive. It is about taking responsibility for one's personal health which means becoming informed about traditional and natural therapies and taking control of one's lifestyle - like placing family before work.

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