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Globesity: Tonga Edition

July 7, 2011
A Gorgeous Land Struggling With Obesity

A Gorgeous Land Struggling With Obesity

As my darling younger brother enjoys the good life teaching scuba diving in the South Pacific, I sit at my computer avoiding the outrageous humidity of my American city while writing about obesity in the South Pacific. The world is not a fair place.

Wonderful reader hungcarla (Thank you!) sent me an article today: “Tonga Battles Obesity” and it is truly fascinating.

For those of you how are as geographically incompetent as I am, Tonga is “a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) of ocean in the South Pacific. Fifty-two of the islands are inhabited.

The article explains:

Amputations and heart disease are at record levels in Tonga’s hospitals.

In a health system with no facilities to deal with kidney failure or cancer – 80 per cent of surgeries are linked to lifestyle related diseases, notably, obesity.

Six out of every 10 Tongans are obese. On average, Tongans’ eat four times the amount of food recommended by the country’s health department.

Tonga is now looking to ban or tax poor quality imported foods.

Legislation may not teach restraint but keeping fatty foods off the menu is a step towards slimming down Tonga’s spiraling health costs.

Wow. This is amazing to me. Apparently, “on average, Tongans eat 4 times the amount of food recommended by nations health department…Feasting on sundays and for special events is a cultural tradition proving hard to change.” One Tongan explains that essentially in the culture, presenting someone with more food is symbolic of more respect.

Also featured is a local dentist who is wiring peoples jaws shut to help them lose weight on a liquid diet. If you vomit (which could prove dangerous) he recommends that you “carry around a pair of scissors and just slit the wire!” Will this become the next popular diet fad? Or is it already one (I’ll have to check the DietReview site…)?

Globesity is truly on the rise, and societies all over the world are struggling with this epidemic. What is happening? And who will be next?

(Image courtesy of PacificPrime)

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