THERE is an increase in Non-Communicable Diseases on islands in the Lau Group.
And health officials have blamed it on the increase in the consumption of processed foods by the villagers.
While health officials could not provide any statistics yesterday, they confirmed that an increase in NCDs had been noted in the group.
Health officials will return to Suva this afternoon after a one week trip to the group to check on various aspects of health services.
The Minister for Health, Doctor Neil Sharma, and deputy secretary for Public Health Dr Joe Koroivueta were also part of the trip.
Health Ministry spokesman Peni Namotu said, "What we have seen is the increasing incidences of NCDs on the islands in the Lau Group. Vessels from the mainland are coming in now and again, bringing in processed food which changes the lifestyle of people," he said from Cicia in Lau yesterday.
"The cases of hypertension and diabetes have increased on the islands."
Mr Namotu said public health nurses in Lau have been told to increase awareness and advocacy on NCDs.
He said processed food being shipped out of Suva to the group also had an added burden as far as the health of villagers was concerned.
"We have advised villagers to engage themselves in physical activity like gardening, which has stopped a bit because of the reliance on processed food."
Mr Namotu also said yaqona consumption was not excessive in villages in the group but the reliance on processed food was a problem, resulting in the increase in NCDs.