May 6, 2016

Understanding Pasifika youth and the obesogenic environment, Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand

Ridvan Tupai-Firestone, Hana Tuisano, Moana Manukia, Keawe‘aimoku
Kaholokula, Sunia Foliaki, Te Kani Kingi, Rozanne Kruger, Bernhard
Breier, Angelique O’Connell, Barry Borman and Lis Ellison-Loschmann

New Zealand Medical Journal

AIM: In New Zealand, the burden of obesity is greatest among Pacific people, especially in children and adolescents. We investigated the factors of the obesogenic environment that were indigenous to Pasifika youths’ social-cultural context, their food purchasing behaviours, and associated anthropometric measures.

METHODS: An exploratory study of 30 Pasifika youth aged 16–24 years in Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand.

RESULTS: A large proportion of the participants were obese (mean body mass index: 31.0kg/m2; waist-to-hip ratio: 0.84; waist-to-height ratio: 0.6), suggesting that the future health and wellbeing trajectory of the studied Pasifika youth is poor. Purchasing behaviours of food and snacks over a 7-day period provided meaningful insights that could be a useful future research tool to examine the role of their physical environment on food access and availability.

CONCLUSIONS: From this exploratory study, we highlight the following: (i) the future health trajectory of Pasifika youth is poor. Developing the youths’ healthy lifestyle knowledge may lend itself to developing culturally relevant intervention programmes; (ii) identifying the enablers and barriers within the Pasifika context of an obesogenic environment can provide very useful information; (iii) use of spatial analysis using purchased food receipts adds to the current knowledge base of obesity-related research, although this was an exploratory investigation. We need to address these highlights if we are to reverse the trend of obesity for this population.

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