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Call to change diet

Dawn Gibson
Wednesday, May 14, 2014

WHILE encouraging a more active lifestyle among Fijians strives essentially for a fitter population, this increased physical activity cannot compensate for poor diets.

And according to the Health Ministry, Diabetes Fiji and the Consumer Council of Fiji, Fijians need to invest in better diets if the issue of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is to be addressed effectively.

"The dietary habits of Fijians have changed a lot — we no longer rely on traditional foods like local fresh fish, fruits and vegetables and root crops.

"Within our current diets are some food types that pose a particular risk to our health — those high in fat, sugar and/or salt," explained the three contributors Dr Wahid Khan, Dr Isimeli Tukana and Premila Kumar.

"Extensive evidence now shows that diets high in sugars, fat (especially certain types of fat) and salt, and low in fruits and vegetables are one of the major risk factors for NCDs, and also increase the risks of problems like anaemia."

They are warning members of the public to make the informed decision to stay away from sugar-sweetened drinks.

"The WHO is currently finalising updated recommendations on the intake of free sugars, and it is clear that most are consuming far too much.

"Of particular concern is that evidence shows that sugar-sweetened drinks in particular are a problem.

"Being physically active is extremely important for health — it has multiple positive effects on our body.

"It is not, however, very effective on its own at helping to lose weight.

"The most successful ways to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight are to focus on dietary changes, but also to increase activity.

"So can being more physically active make up for a poor diet? No."

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