5 Facts About Nauru’s Overweight Health Issue
Nauru is a small island country located in the Pacific Ocean near Papa New Guinea and is home to around 10,000 people. More than 70 percent of the population in this country is categorized as obese and overweight. According to the World Health Organization, Nauru has the highest percentage of overweight and obese people in the world. Its ongoing health issue has gained much attention from health organizations. Many organizations, like the World Diabetes Foundation, have reached out and offered financial help to establish health care programs in the hopes that the people of Nauru will take on a healthier lifestyle but have found little success. Here are 5 facts about Nauru’s overweight health issue.

5 Facts About Nauru’s Overweight Health Issue

  1. Causes of Death: Nauru has the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the world with 40 percent of its inhabitants affected by the condition. This condition puts many people at risk for heart and kidney disease on the small island and many suffer from high blood pressure. Very few people live past the age of 60 on the island.
  2. The Nauruan Diet: The obesity and overweight problem found in Nauru may be because of the lack of proper nutrition in Nauruan’s diets. Many of their diets consist of white rice, instant noodles, imported Westernized foods and soda with very little fruits and vegetables. A Global Nutrition Report suggests that once Nauru makes improvements to the quality of foods available, it could start to see some success in reducing the number of people being that obesity affects. Some ways it can start working towards a healthier lifestyle is by creating easy-to-understand food labels, limiting the marketing of junk food to children and increasing taxes on sodas.
  3. Child Obesity: According to a 2017 UNICEF report, 44 percent of children ages 13 to 15 are overweight while 17 percent are obese. Many children on the island are not getting enough physical activity. Only 15 percent of children reported being physically active for at least an hour a day. On the other hand, 33 percent of children reported that they spend at least three hours per day doing sitting activities. Obesity has become a social norm that many children have accepted and do not see anything wrong with.
  4. Lack of Traditional Practices: The World Health Organization has suggested that Nauru’s obesity problem started with the decline of traditional practices such as fishing and gardening. Before the country gained independence, many Nauruan’s diets consisted of fresh fish, fruits and vegetables grown on their own land. Because of the easy money the country was able to gain from phosphate mining, people stopped farming and fishing and found it easier to import canned and frozen foods.
  5. Solutions: Obesity rates have not dropped on the island, but some have made efforts to help people get some physical activity. Events such as Walk against Cancer were prevalent in Nauru. In 2010, locals received encouragement to walk around the three-mile airport perimeter every Wednesday. The country eventually stopped the three-mile walks due to security reasons but people on the island still provide regular exercise classes.

These 5 facts about Nauru’s overweight health issue have shown that the island country of Nauru is suffering from a huge obesity problem and exercise is not the only solution to this issue. Good nutrition is an extremely important aspect of preventing diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease and something that Nauru has to prioritize to see any changes in the lifestyles of its citizens. Providing children and adults with fresh vegetables and fruits instead of imported junk foods will make a huge impact on the health of this country. The people of Nauru are capable of changing their lifestyles if provided with the right tools.

– Jannette Aguirre
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Chile
Located on the southwest edge of South America, Chile‘s international poverty rate is 1.3 percent. This number is fairly low compared to other nations, but Chilean poverty is on the rise as the nation’s international poverty rate increased from 0.9 percent in 2015. Today, 234,083 Chilean people remain impoverished and currently survive on less than $1.90 a day. Despite this descent in economic prosperity, poverty has not negatively affected the country’s life expectancy as it is has risen from 73.6 in 1990 to 79.1 in 2018. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Chile.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Chile

  1. Female Life Expectancy: While the overall average life expectancy in Chile evens out at 79.1 years, according to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), women tend to live longer. Women have an average lifespan of 82.2 years while most men live to the age of 76. Despite this gap in longevity, Chilean citizens generally live long lives as the country ranks 51st among 222 other global nations.
  2. Living Conditions: Overcrowding has long been an issue in Chile. Not only does it reflect the economic fragility of the region but it also harms the physical and mental health of citizens subjected to it. When the Chilean government implemented the Social Housing Recovery of 2014, the health of the country’s citizens increased and their life expectancy increased as a result. Today, the average Chilean home houses 1.2 people per room, which is better than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) average of 1.8. Thanks to the Social Housing Recovery initiative, Chileans not only experience a higher standard of living, but they also received their right to better health and longer lives.
  3. Obesity: Obesity is one of Chile’s leading health issues. According to the CIA, nearly one-third of all Chilean adults suffer from obesity. Chile’s obesity rates ranked number 32 globally with 34.4 percent of adults and 44.5 percent of children suffering from the condition. Because of obesity, a large number of the nation’s citizens have an increased risk of other diseases including cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes, some of the nation’s leading causes of death.
  4. Public Health Interventions: The Bono Auge Programme of 2010 created a universal health care program for Chile’s people. By providing a private health care voucher when public sector care is unavailable, more Chilean citizens are able to receive health care. Following its implementation, the program reduced the patient waiting list by 113,556 in 2010 to 50,780 the following year. The program also prioritizes those with high mortality pathological conditions and sets a two-day time limit on their waiting period for care. Patients who do not see a health care provider in this time frame receive a voucher so that another provider will see them. Equal health care increases the life expectancy of the Chilean people, as faster care and treatment not only saves lives but also extends them.
  5. Cancer: According to the OECD, Chile’s cancer mortality rate is high in comparison with its level of occurrence. Of the 35 percent of cases diagnosed, 23.8 percent end in death. This number makes up 24 percent of Chile’s national mortality rate and shortens the expected life span of its people. While the country has ways to treat the disease, much of this treatment is unequal and not enough. While it has created good screening procedures for cervical and breast cancers, it lacks large quantities of the equipment necessary to perform the job. Consequently, it is unable to reach a large number of people, and many people’s cancers go undetected. Unequal and limited proper testing hold Chile’s life expectancy back, as many of the country’s people die of cancers they are not aware they even have.
  6. Child Mortality: Ranked 163 in comparison with other countries, Chile’s infant mortality rate is fairly low. With an average of 6.4 deaths per 1,000 births and an under-5 mortality rate of 7.4 out of 1,000 during 2017, the country’s numbers prove themselves unalarming. Also, Chile’s infant mortality rate is on the decline, as the country’s under-5 mortality has dropped from 33.10 in 1980 to 7.4 in 2017.
  7. Air Pollution: Chile’s high concentration of air pollutant particles has a negative effect on the nation’s life expectancy. With 16.03 micrograms per cubic meter polluting Chilean air, the country fails to meet the 10 microgram standard that the World Health Organization set. The issue with polluted air is that it increases the risk for other diseases, such as lung cancer, which can eventually lead to death. Also, many expect that polluted air will be the leading cause of environmental premature death by 2050, meaning that without intervention, the country’s air quality will not only shorten the lives of people in the present, but it will also hurt the citizens of Chile’s future.
  8. Access to Health Care: While Chile has made strides towards equalizing its health care, care inequality is still a large issue. Socioeconomic status is the main determinant of the amount and quality of health care Chilean citizens receive. Chile’s indigenous citizens are statistically more impoverished, as they have a 35.6 percent poverty rate in comparison to their non-indigenous counterparts whose poverty rate rests at 22.7 percent. With a lower economic status, indigenous individuals have a higher risk of death, especially within their first year of life. In Mapuche, Chile, the children indigenous to Araucania have a 250 percent higher risk of death in their first year than those non-indigenous to the region. Without proper and equal access to health care, Chile’s impoverished people have a lower life expectancy merely because of economic status.
  9. Tobacco Consumption: According to the Pan American Health Organization, 20.2 percent of Chilean adolescents aged 19 to 25 participate in tobacco use. This number rises to 49.1 percent when assessing those citizens aged 26 to 34. This popularity in tobacco use not only increases the country’s risk of death from lung-related diseases, but it accounts for a large chunk of its lung cancer diagnoses. Chile is doing work to combat the issue, as it has implemented many anti-smoking policies, such as prohibiting smoking in public. As a result of these legislations, the prevalence of the nation’s total tobacco use has decreased from 42.6 percent in 2006 to 34.7 percent in 2014.
  10. Maternal Mortality: As of 2014, parasites and infections are the largest contributors to maternal deaths in Chile, as they make up to 25 percent of the total causes. While the maternal mortality rate has decreased, as deaths per 100,000 live births have dropped from 39.9 in 1990 to 22.2 in 2015. Improving Chilean poverty and prioritizing Chilean health care would improve the maternal death rate even more, as parasitic and infectious diseases are more prevalent among poverty-stricken regions.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Chile show that by working towards ending Chilean poverty, the country’s total life expectancy will rise as a result. With poverty increasing the risk of many factors that contribute to Chilean mortality, such as decreased access to health care, reduced health literacy, higher risk of disease and higher prevalence of destructive behavior, a fight against poverty is a fight for all Chilean life.

– Candace Fernandez
Photo: Flickr

solution to diabetes and obesity
Currently, almost 80 percent of diabetes deaths occur in low or middle-income countries. Halo Life Sciences, a company based in Austin, Texas, plans to change that. It has developed a product that it calls Naturalin, a naturally occurring phytonutrient that can go into snack foods, dairy, protein products, beverages and more. The addition of Naturalin makes these products far more nutritious. Naturalin has a massive potential to enact positive change in the food industry in a number of nations around the world as a solution for diabetes and obesity.

Naturalin Basics

Entrepreneur Michael Reyes originally developed Naturalin as a response to the growing number of obese, diabetic and pre-diabetic individuals in developing countries. Island nations such as the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Nauru have the highest rates of diabetes in the world. Individuals who are diabetic often contract the disease because their bodies are insulin resistant. Many different things can cause insulin resistance, but it is closely associated with excess weight and body fat. This, in turn, places an undue burden on both these individuals and the health care providers in these countries, as individuals with diabetes often require specific medications, such as short and long-acting insulin, amylinomimetic drugs, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors and DPP-4. Naturalin can help reduce this burden by fortifying common foods such as rice and flour. In addition to its nutritional benefits, Naturalin is a sustainable product and is a renewable resource, ensuring that it will be available for usage by future generations.

Plans for Expansion

Halo Life Sciences is currently in the process of getting Naturalin into markets around the world, including in Brazil, India, China and Israel. The company has partnered with a number of individuals and corporations in these countries. It is also planning to start developing its own CPG’s (consumer packaged goods) that will already have Naturalin in them. These recent developments will likely result in Halo Life Sciences receiving investments from those who see Naturalin’s potential as a solution for diabetes and obesity. Such investments will make the process of expanding into global markets much easier.

Potential Roadblocks

While Naturalin has the potential to enact real global change, it does face some potential roadblocks in the implementation process. For one, a strong marketing campaign must back the product, so that people know about its benefits. Halo Life Sciences has already done some work on this end, as it has invested heavily in scientific research; researches at the University of Texas-Austin validated Naturalin as safe, functional and effective when they tested it. However, it must continue to work on getting its message out to people around the globe. The company must also navigate the oftentimes tricky process of delivering its product into rural communities. If Naturalin can deal with these two potential roadblocks, it will be able to thrive as a product in countless nations around the world.

Changing the World

Naturalin has the capacity to change the world for the better by being a solution for diabetes and obesity. It provides individuals with a quick and easy way to consume more nutritious food, and upon implementation, will almost certainly reduce the total number of individuals suffering from diabetes and obesity worldwide. It is, without a doubt, a very promising solution to one of the most pressing issues facing the modern world.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Pixabay

How the Media Misrepresents Samoa

Located in the region of the world known as Oceania, the islands of Samoa make up a nation that has been able to successfully sustain its economy since gaining its independence from New Zealand in 1961. A nation known for its sacred family values, the island of roughly 195,000 citizens is largely dependent on its agricultural and fishing industries.

In recent years, the island nation has been highlighted in the media for its obesity epidemic, due to the nation’s low Per Capita Income of $5,965. This has caused many families to turn to cheap food products, which are usually high in calories, in order to survive. In spite of the nation’s ongoing struggle with its obesity issue, what may often be overlooked is how the media misrepresents Samoa.

History of Samoa: A Future with Promise

Samoa is a nation composed of citizens that have withstood colonization as well as threats from natural disasters, such as the 2009 earthquake in the Pacific that induced a tsunami. The nation’s current GDP is roughly $830 million, which is not a substantial amount of money for the economy.

However, in recent years, the nation has made several milestones that allude to economic progressions, such as joining the World Trade Organization. The nation has also advocated more for women’s rights by developing a quota system to ensure that more women receive the opportunity to participate in governmental affairs.

How the Media Misrepresents Samoa

Although Samoa has its domestic challenges to overcome, the island has long been producing some of the most talented athletes the world has ever seen. The media misrepresents Samoa by shedding light on the nation’s obesity epidemic, rather than on the athletic talent that has given a good reputation to the nation.

Samoa is referred to as “Football Island” because of the significant number of American NFL football players that come from there. Samoan men have been recognized for their athletic capabilities over the years and have been recruited to football and rugby teams in New Zealand, the United States and Australia.

Two such athletes are Jordan Cameron, who played for the Miami Dolphins, and Malcom Floyd, who played for the San Diego Chargers. Both men were nominated for the 2015 Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award.

Women have also made their mark in the sports industry. Women athletes have made history for Samoa by winning coveted sports awards. One such award, achieved by Sergeant Latoya N. Marshall, was the Female Athlete of the Year award by the All-Army Sports Office.

Another internationally-recognized female athlete is weightlifter Ele Opeloge, who brought attention to Samoa over the years for her weightlifting performances in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Opeloge was awarded a silver medal for her performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and continues to receive recognition from the media for her achievements.

Tourism: A Promising Industry

Another industry that remains promising for Samoa is the tourism industry. The nation hosts a natural, tropical scenery that attracts people from all over the world, and according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Samoan tourism makes up roughly $207.5 million of the nation’s GDP and 132,000 tourists visited the island nation in the year 2013 alone.

Oceanian culture has also gained a wider international influence, an influence that has the potential to attract more tourists to the region over time. One recent example is with the release of the widely successful Disney film “Moana,” an animation about a figurative princess from the island of Tahiti that has grossed over $600 million.

As Samoa continues to rise above its struggles with domestic obesity, a weak economy and threats from nature, the nation shows great promise. Several industries have brought the nation positive recognition in the international media, overshadowing the multiple ways that the media misrepresents Samoa.

– Lois Charm
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in SingaporeTo many, Singapore is an eccentric country with gleaming skyscrapers and a wealthy population. In essence, those with this vision are not wrong, seeing that the country is one of the wealthiest and most developed states in the world, simultaneously boasting the world’s highest concentration of millionaires. But, it is also home to the second-biggest inequality gap among advanced economies of Asia. Here, poverty is hidden. The top 10 facts about hunger in Singapore uncover the realities behind a country that many tend to overlook or simply ignore them.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Singapore

  1. Upwards of 23,000 children in Singapore are malnourished. Additionally, basic needs are inaccessible to 1 in 10 Singaporeans, including essentials such as food and shelter. But, the issue is larger than just putting food on the table and providing for the family. Access to healthy and nutritious food is not a reality for most, and consequently, such unhealthy diets lead to further health issues and chronic disease.
  2. Hidden hunger is real. Hidden hunger is when someone is suffering from malnutrition without feeling hunger. This has recently become a critical problem, specifically among migrant workers where the common food staple is rice. A diet reliant solely on rice, however, lacks adequate and essential nutrients, which leads to malnutrition. To combat this threatening social issue, an organization called BoP HUB is teaming up with a Dutch-based life sciences company by the name of DSM. The two organizations are focusing on fortifying rice, the Singaporean staple, so workers and those suffering from hidden hunger will have access to a nutritious alternative to regular rice, essentially turning meals from empty carbs to healthy carbs.
  3. Relative poverty is Singapore poverty. Relative poverty, more apparent in developed nations, regions and cities, is essentially the cutoff line for how much a household should be able to afford in terms of basic necessities. Even more so, relative poverty includes the monetary minimum needed to avoid “social exclusion.” In more developed nations, there are luxury goods that one can certainly live without, but, when lacking, will likely result in being socially marginalized and significantly limited in one’s career. Around 10-12 percent of households in Singapore fall below the basic living expenditure of $1,250 per month; however, 23-26 percent of households fall below the threshold of $3,000, the unwritten cutoff line that deems one to be either socially excluded or not.
  4. The complexity of poverty in Singapore is not understood. It is easy to assume that hunger doesn’t exist among the well-educated population of an affluent city-state, but unmet social needs are real and remain poorly understood. Associate Professor John Donaldson of the Singapore Management University (SMU) School of Social Sciences states that “Singapore’s economy developed rapidly, and the ‘Third World’ form of poverty has disappeared. Yet, many people fall into a type of ‘First World’ poverty.” According to economists and statistics, between 10-14 percent of Singaporeans suffer from severe financial trouble and pressure and are often unable to meet basic needs. Ultimately, hunger remains one of the most prominent issues.
  5. The Food Bank of Singapore has accepted the challenge of eradicating hunger. This organization receives donations of surplus food from retailers, distributors and manufacturers. Despite losing commercial value, the foods are still safe to consume. With 800,000 meals delivered monthly, the Food Bank is helping to curb the tide of hunger and give Singapore’s forgotten an opportunity to thrive. Furthermore, the organization works to spread awareness about hunger and decrease the stigma for those in need.
  6. The Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Singapore as the second-most food secure country in the world, behind only the United States. Based on affordability, availability and quality and safety, Singapore is ahead of major food-producing nations despite its heavy dependence on food imports. With only 1 percent of the land being dedicated to agriculture, Singapore must import 90 percent of the country’s food, yet they have found a way to secure food. Through the diversification of food sources, the economy and food security are not highly impacted by other nation’s economic decline because the variety of import countries allows for flexibility.
  7. Local food production has increased. The Agri-Food and Veterinary (AVA) and the Food Fund have allowed Singapore to increase its local vegetable production by 30 percent over the past decade. Upwards of 40 percent of local farms are benefiting from the help of investment in advancements and new farming techniques such as hydroponics.
  8. Rising obesity in children and young adults foretells an increase in diabetes. Rates for diabetes in adults have already risen from 8.6 percent in 1992 to 12.9 percent in 2015. As a result of working life and less physical activity, obesity has been rising at a faster rate for the population under 40 years of age. Moreover, people continue to eat the same amount of food, but without the benefit of physical activity to keep them in check.
  9. Malnutrition among the elderly is increasing. In 2015, Tan Tock Seng Hospital estimated that about 30 percent of the elderly population were at risk of malnutrition. In such a developed country, this is a surprise to many. Malnutrition in the elderly increases the risk of medical complications, including infections, fractures and compromised recovery and rehabilitation.
  10. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030. This U.N. goal of “Zero Hunger” aims to eradicate food insecurity, providing sufficient and nutritious food to the population, especially the most vulnerable, all year round. The organization One Singapore is echoing this goal through foodbank programs working to eradicate poverty and hunger.

The top 10 facts about hunger in Singapore shine a light on the surprising challenges of malnutrition and poverty in a country of so much wealth. In forthcoming decades, there is hope that food security for the most vulnerable – children, elderly, and migrant workers – will increase. As a country with such a powerful reputation, it is vital to harbor awareness of the country’s struggles if such pervasive issues are to be alleviated.

Mary Grace Miller

Photo: Flickr

Obesity in Resource-Poor NationsThe state of physical activity – or perhaps inactivity – is presenting researchers with a new problem in an age of widespread poverty. Over two billion people are currently obese or overweight, globally. Subsequently, one in 10 deaths are the direct result of health issues stemming from inactivity and obesity.

Inactivity in high-income countries is not a novel concept. When there are means of automatic transportation, a market or grocer nearby and a population that has access to vast white-collar work opportunities, inactivity – and its resulting obesity – existing at an elevated rate is not suspect. However, obesity in resource-poor nations is now concerning global leaders. When a country cannot afford basic needs without help, how will it deal with increased healthcare costs associated with poor health?

Brazilian researcher, Dr. Pedro C. Hallal, recently sought out to answer just how inactive the world is becoming. In 2012, Hallal compiled answers to 155 population surveys from 122 different countries, with the purpose of collecting data about people’s general health and lifestyle choices. What Hallal discovered was that severely impoverished countries, like Swaziland and Dominican Republic, ranked at the top of the list of the most inactive countries, alongside some of the most affluent countries.

According to Hallal’s research, Malta ranked at the very top, with nearly 72 percent of the population reporting high levels of inactivity. However, the Pacific Islands, Middle East and Americas lead the way, generally. For comparison, the U.S. had an inactivity rate of 41 percent. The countries with the most commendable numbers were well under 10 percent; these include Bangladesh, Mozambique, Benin and Cambodia.

Sub-Saharan Africa demonstrates, though, why physical activity is so essential, even when wages and higher living standards cannot be guaranteed. Noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, thrive in resource-poor countries such as Kenya. While these resource-poor nations are having a tough time ensuring a balanced diet, the rapid urbanization of these same countries is compounding the negative health effects and increasing the number of health-related deaths.

A healthy lifestyle ultimately depends on an active one. This does not mean that gyms need to be constructed immediately, nor does foreign aid need to fund exercise equipment before meeting basic needs. Rather, one important thing that can be done is simply encouraging people to be more active. The U.N. has intervened, with its Sustainable Development Goals placing a focus on poor eating choices combined with physical inactivity, and the need to improve the rates of obesity that result from these choices.

However, the solution must be a societal one. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, noted that “different countries have different issues… You need to mobilize (their) whole society to tackle the problem… it’s not just a medical problem.”

The benefits of a healthier nation are also not a novel concept. When people are physically active, the heart and lungs experience increased efficiency, cholesterol levels go down, muscles strengthen, blood pressure problems decline and, overall, individuals makes themselves less susceptible to major illnesses. There are no inherent risks in encouraging people to walk a little more and have their kids play outside for 30 minutes, aside from a possible scraped knee or other minor accident.

The rising level of obesity in resource-poor nations should concern the countries experiencing it, along with the countries that are providing foreign aid. While not every nation can adjust the foods available, individuals in resource-poor nations can still make choices about their physical activity in order to prevent obesity. Neglecting to address this issue will only open the door to more medical expenses for countries that cannot afford to run themselves financially. Obesity is preventable, but it takes societal motivation and accountability to help prevent it.

Taylor Elkins

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in BarbadosBarbados is an eastern Caribbean island that, along with other Caribbean nations, has faced problems with malnourishment. Hunger in Barbados and other Caribbean countries was a major issue between 1990 and 1992, when there were an estimated 8.1 million malnourished citizens in these countries.

However, by 2016, that number decreased to 7.5 million, improving by 7.4 percent. Barbados is also one of the leaders in the Caribbean when it comes to ending malnourishment. Barbados, along with Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, met the global hunger target set at the World Food Summit in 1996. Hunger in Barbados is nearly gone; the estimated rate of malnourishment in Barbados is less than 5 percent.

Barbados has taken great steps towards ending hunger; however, Barbados has a new problem: childhood obesity. At the National Committee Monitoring the Rights of the Child, Consultant Pediatrician from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Professor Anne St. John gave a speech. She praised Barbados for conquering malnutrition and the illnesses that go along with it, but then said, “now we have gone from under-feeding to overeating, and obesity is a form of malnutrition.”

Dr. St. John also explained that the average Barbadian is now eating 400 more calories a day than they were just 30 years earlier. According to a 2005 study, about 27 percent of students in primary school are obese, which could be a result of these extra calories that mostly come from fat and snacks. Dr. St. John believes that cultural practices and traditions may be a contributing factor to this weight gain in adolescents. She says that some parents claim their child is a picky eater, but some parents take more drastic measures. She has heard stories of parents hitting their children with a belt or ruler if they do not finish their plate, or some resort to “shoveling food down the child’s throat”.

Along with the increase in calorie intake, the idea around exercise at a young age has also affected obesity rates. Dr. St. John explained that when children begin choosing classes in third form, some schools do not have physical education as a requirement, so some students no longer take it. Also, students’ parents are using conditions such as asthma as an excuse to take them out of these classes, when in reality they should stay in, as it helps increase their lung capacity.

Barbados is working on ways to stop this increase in childhood obesity, such as removing mascots from children’s cereal like Tony the Tiger. Children may choose these cereals based on the characters, when in reality they are full of sugar and less healthy than alternatives. Educators are also trying to teach children that fruit juices, though they contain fruit in the name, are actually unhealthy based on the added sugars. Like hunger in Barbados, obesity is another issue that Barbadians will be sure to solve.

Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr

 Hunger in Dominica
With a GDP of nearly $5.2 million and a population of 72,680 people, the Commonwealth of Dominica is considered an upper-middle income country, according to the World Bank.

While the average citizen does not regularly face hunger in Dominica, many still face malnutrition through the introduction of the Western diet. Approximately 55 percent of all foods consumed in Dominica are imported, which contributes to a calorically dense, yet nutritionally weak diet and increases in diet-related non-communicable diseases like obesity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and local clinicians alike have identified obesity to be a persistent issue for the island country, with clinical data estimating 24.8 percent of adolescents to be overweight and 9.1 percent obese in 2016. The WHO has enlisted a series of nutritional initiatives and campaigns to reduce obesity through nutrition counseling and promotion of unprocessed foods. Domestic agriculture and fisheries production contribute significant food culture and nutrition value for the population.

Dominica is also especially susceptible to natural disasters due to its location in the Caribbean. Hurricanes and tropical storms can severely stunt the island nation’s food production, as seen in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Erika in 2015. The Agriculture Minister at the time, Johnson Drigo, reported over $200 million in damages to Dominica’s agricultural sector months after the tropical storm had passed.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has contributed much to the literature surrounding nutrition security in Dominica, as well as measures to improve it. The FAO and the government of Dominica have agreed to collaborate over the 2016 to 2019 timeframe in three primary categories: food and nutrition security, agricultural health and food safety; risk management, building resilience to climate change; and sustainable rural agricultural development.

For instance, the FAO aids Dominica’s National School Feeding Program in connecting school lunch programs to local farms and in improving nutrition education among students. The FAO also recognizes that domestic agriculture and fisheries production contributes significant food culture and nutrition value for the population.

When it comes to natural disaster relief, the FAO invests in the short-term, emergency recovery efforts of small farmers and supports long-term, emergency relief planning and agriculture disaster risk management.

While hunger in Dominica may not be the most pertinent issue in the country’s food security, the key to minimizing hunger, obesity and malnutrition alike may lie in improving sustainable nutrition development and in preserving and protecting local agriculture in light of natural disasters.

Casie Wilson

Photo: Flickr

Poor Health in the Pacific Has Hope
The World Health Organization has identified nine out of the top 10 most obese nations as being located in the Pacific. Within these nine nations, rates of obesity range from 35 percent all the way up to 50 percent.

Obesity measurements are calculated by looking at an individual’s BMI, or body mass index. Pacific islanders naturally have a larger build than people of other ethnicities. This is the case because, at one time, people from this region were forced to endure long and difficult journeys at sea. People able to store enough energy in the form of fat were more likely to survive, and evolution selected for these genes. However, this genetic component still does not explain all of the obesity rates.

What does help to explain this epidemic is the increasing number of foods that are being imported to the islands. Traditional tropical diets included an abundance of fresh produce and fish, but these foods are now replaced with more processed foods, which provide a cheaper alternative. One World Health Organization worker and Fijian native even noted that “it’s cheaper to buy a bottle of coke than a bottle of water.”

Additionally, urbanization and increasing numbers of office jobs contribute to poor health in the Pacific. Historically, many jobs such as fishing and farming included a great deal of physical activity. However, as more people begin to drive to work in offices, physical activity is greatly reduced.

This obesity academic is exhibited in children as well. Roughly one in five Pacific children are obese, and diabetes is a constant concern for children as well as health services who struggle to meet increasing demands.

Despite these unfortunate circumstances, there is still much hope for improving health in the Pacific. Members of the World Health Organization are confident that higher taxes on soft drinks, controlled marketing of products aimed at children and general promotions of a healthy lifestyle can help to turn things around.

Additionally, Australian researchers recently found an issue with the way that the rates of Type 2 diabetes were being measured in the Pacific. Essentially, blood glucose levels measured in the first phase of the survey were mistakenly compared to plasma levels in the follow-up portion of the survey. This caused rates to become inflated to nearly twice their actual value.

It was originally believed that Samoa experienced a 24.3 percent increase in diabetes from 2002 to 2013 when the actual increase was less than 3 percent. Tonga was thought to have experienced a 12 percent increase when diabetes rates actually decreased by three percent. Clearly, a recalculation may be required.

Although this inflation certainly does not mitigate the entire health crisis occurring in the Pacific islands, it does mean that at least rates of diabetes may be lower than was previously thought. Further steps to improve health in the Pacific will need to include conscious efforts on behalf of national governments, health organizations and citizens to strongly promote healthy living.

Nathaniel Siegel

Photo: Flickr

Public Health Challenge: Combating the Top Diseases in Estonia
A member of the European Union since 2004, Estonia is among the wealthiest nations in the Baltic region. Likewise, the country has a modern health system that can reasonably support its population of 1.3 million.

Almost all Estonians are covered by health insurance, and the greatest menaces to public health, like heart disease and cancer, are characteristic of a developed country.

Nonetheless, more than one in five Estonians lives below the poverty line and are especially at risk for certain health problems that are prevalent in the country. Here are some of the top diseases in Estonia and what is being done to combat them.

HIV/AIDS

While the death toll from AIDS is dwarfed by that of heart disease and cancer in Estonia, the country has the highest prevalence of HIV in all of Europe. Around 1.3 percent of the population carries HIV, comparable to rates in Sierra Leone or Mali.

The first case of HIV was diagnosed in 1988, and the rate of incidence remained minuscule until the turn of the century. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease exploded in 2000, mostly among drug users.

Since then, the incidence rate has declined, but still more cases are reported each year. Epidemiologists have found that heterosexual transmission has increased in recent years, adding to the more than 9 thousand Estonians who have been infected.

Estonia has seriously grappled with HIV/AIDS for decades. All treatment for HIV-positive patients is free, and education about the disease is standard in Estonian classrooms. Some trends have epidemiologists in the country hopeful: according to UN AIDS, both safe sex practices and HIV testing are on the rise among Estonians.

Tuberculosis

Like AIDS, tuberculosis is not one of the major killers in Estonia, but the disease poses complex challenges for the country’s health system. Estonia has one of the highest multi-drug resistant tuberculosis burdens in the world. In many ways, tuberculosis in the country is tied to the issue of HIV: the prevalence of TB/HIV co-infection in Estonia is one of the highest in Europe at 15 percent.

Beyond people who suffer from AIDS, tuberculosis also particularly threatens Estonians who use intravenous drugs or drink heavily — a population that reports from WHO suggest could be large.

The rate of tuberculosis incidence is decreasing, indicating that Estonia is winning its battle against the disease. But according to WHO, as the incidence decreases, new challenges will arise. As the issue shrinks in magnitude, political and financial commitment may also dwindle — something that Estonia’s government must avoid if the disease is to be defeated in the country.

Obesity

There is still controversy over whether obesity is actually a “disease,” but reports and data on public health in Estonia have outlined it as a clear issue. Sources disagree, but 2014 research from the University of Tartu found that as many as one in three Estonians are clinically obese (a body mass index of over 30).

Obesity can greatly increase the risk of a myriad of health issues, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke accounted for nearly half of all deaths in Estonia in 2012 (48 percent), so many physicians believe the issue should be taken seriously as one of the top diseases in Estonia.

The issue may be correlated to modernization. WHO estimates that nearly half of Estonian adults are insufficiently active, while salt intake is growing.

Obesity is not an easy issue to tackle, but growing scholarship and research on obesity has helped Estonia assess its magnitude and effects. In recent years the government has implemented some policies to promote consumer awareness and healthy eating habits in schools.

Estonia faces unique but surmountable public health challenges. The government likely has the means to solve such issues, and the nation, therefore, serves as a good example of how funding is not the only weapon fights like these; there must be political attention, commitment and patience. Coming years will tell the extent Estonia’s diligence in the realm of health, and likely provide valuable lessons for nations facing similar issues.

Charlie Tomb

Photo: Flickr