Pacific Island countries (PICs) are experiencing an epidemic of obesity and consequent chronic diseases. Despite investment in the development of National Plans of Action for Nutrition (NPANs) and interventions to promote healthy eating and physical activity, nutritional status appears to show little improvement. This paper presents a synthesis of the findings from two research papers that were prepared for a 2003 food safety and quality meeting in Nadi, Fiji. The findings indicate that although lifestyle behaviours might be the immediate cause of dietary imbalances, greater attention should focus on omnipresent influences of globalisation as a critical element of the nutrition transition in the Pacific. In particular, those aspects of globalisation mediated through the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements that are placing pressures on food security and fostering increased dependence on imported food of poor nutritional quality. Rapid, significant and sustainable improvements in public health in PICs require interventions that can tackle these underlying contributors to ill health. There are opportunities to explore the use of food regulatory approaches to influence the composition, availability and accessibility of food products. Within the context of the WTO Agreements the legitimacy of food regulatory approaches will depend upon the case to demonstrate the relationship between the intervention and the protection of food security and public health nutrition. The challenges in realising these opportunities are: 1) to have the capacity to construct a case, 2) meet the technical and financial demands to administer and enforce regulatory approaches, and 3) to take advantage of opportunities available and to be able to fully participate in the international policy-making process.
Field of Research
111199 Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified
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