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Combating obesity rates.

THE FONO, which provides health care and community services across four Auckland locations, has launched the Pacific Healthy Babies Health Families (HBHF) programme to combat the high obesity rates among Pacific people, compared to the total population.

According to programme co-ordinator, Tongan-born doctor of obstetrics and gynaecology Aivi Puloka, a large proportion of Pacific people's health disparity is due to their high chronic disease burden, particularly for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Almost one in three adults in New Zealand were found to be obese in the Ministry of Health's 2012/13 New Zealand Health Survey. Sixty-eight per cent of Pacific adults were found to be obese, with 27 per cent of Pacific children already becoming obese.

"At the Fono, we see the heavy burden non-communicable diseases within the Pacific community have placed on services. We need to do more to counteract diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity before people reach adulthood," said Puloka.

The new programme will focus on pregnancy. "If we focus on where life begins and can encourage mothers to modify what they eat to improve their babies' outcomes, we will make some real progress in helping Pacific people make much-needed lifestyle changes," she said. "We can then expect to see a healthier baby without the risk of hypertension, diabetes and obesity to the mother. Cultural competence is also a must for health practitioners, if we are to make a real difference."

Childbirth educators, midwives and any health-care professionals working with Pacific pregnant women, infants and family are being offered a one-day workshop and online training programme. Trainers will be skilled up on the Tapuaki module for the community --meeting mothers and families and stressing the importance and benefits of breastfeeding, running education workshops, and cooking demonstrations to convey healthy nutrition messages.

'It's about training the trainers," said Puloka. "We need to get the message out to community groups and identify champions who will continue to promote the HBHF message with pregnant mothers and mothers with children up to four years old."

Next year, four Pacific providers, including The Fono, aim to train 50 community groups. They also hope the HBHF contract will be extended for another three years.

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Title Annotation:news & events
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Dec 1, 2014
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