Pacific island nations and associated states make up the top seven on a 2007 list of heaviest countries, and eight of the top ten. In all these cases, more than 70% of citizens age 15 and over are obese. A mitigating excuse argument is that the BMI measures used to appraise obesity in Caucasian bodies may need to be adjusted for appraising obesity in Polynesian bodies, which typically have larger bone and muscle mass than Caucasian bodies; however, this would not account for the drastically higher rates of cardiovascular disease and diabetes among these same islanders.
|World ranking||Pacific country||% of overweight persons (age 15 and over)|
|2.||Micronesia, Federated States of||91.1|
Life expectancy has fallen to 64 in Tonga. Tongan life expectancy used to be in the mid-70s. Up to 40% of the population is said to have type 2 diabetes. Tongan Royal Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV, who died in 2006, holds the Guinness World Record for being the heaviest-ever monarch - 200kg.
In Fiji, strokes used to be rare in people under 70. Now, doctors report that they have become common amongst patients in their 20s and 30s. Research done on globalization's impact on health indicates that the rise in average BMI in Fiji correlates with the increase in imports of processed food.  Dr Temo K Waqanivalu, a Fijian representative for WHO, attributes health problems in his country to the substitution of traditional foods with more glamorous imported foods.
In the Marshall Islands in 2008, there were 2000 cases of diabetes out of a population of 53,000. A survey done in the Marshall Islands revealed that the percentage of the total population considered overweight or obese was 62.5%.
Much of the local diet is of processed, calorie-dense, imported food such as spam or corned beef, rather than fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, in part because past mining reduced the amount of arable land.[circular reference] Some very unhealthy foods such as mutton flaps are sold in the Pacific islands due to relatively low wealth. A relatively sedentary lifestyle, including among children, is also contributing to rising obesity rates.
Obesity in the Pacific Islands is also thought to be influenced by cultural factors (tambu foods), including past poor public education on diet, exercise and health (micronutrient deficiencies are also common). Feasting and festivals continue currently to be major parts of life, imported foods have been given higher social status than local, healthier foods, and historically a large body size was associated with wealth, power and beauty.
High rates of obesity appear within 15 months of birth.
Obesity is leading to increased levels of illness, including diabetes and heart diseases.
- List of countries by Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Genetics of obesity
- New World Syndrome
- Epidemiology of obesity
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