Pacific Islands Just Banned Western Junk Food to Promote Health*
By Christina Sarich
Local tourist hot spots in some South Pacific Islands will no longer serve pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, and sugary sweets in plastic wrap – typical Western junk food – to encourage healthier eating habits among people who live there. The government hopes that banning junk food will also sway people to support local farmers and stop feeding the coffers of American junk food companies.
Torba in Vanuata (spread out over about 13 islands) has a population of about 10,000 people, many of whom are farmers, but tourist spots have been providing both locals and tourists in the area convenience foods instead of the fruits and vegetables that are grown locally. Obesity rates in the Pacific Islands have been sky-rocketing as well, causing an additional financial burden.
To combat this effect, tourist bungalows and city meetings alike will now serve fresh limes and coconuts, seafood, and other local, healthy delicacies.
“We want to ban all other junk food from this province,” Luke Dini, a city council’s chairman said.
The province only gets about a 1,000 tourists a year, mostly Europeans, but the current food choices are ruining local health. Vanuata is also only one area in the Pacific that is affected. There are about 10 million people throughout the Pacific, and the rates of diabetes and obesity are becoming absurd. The area simply can’t afford dialysis machines, and other treatments for the growing epidemic.
“Imagine if 75 million Americans had diabetes — that’s the scale of the epidemic we’re talking about in Vanuatu,” commented Roger Magnusson, a professor of health law and governance at Sydney Law School in Australia.
Experts say that the rising obesity rates in the Pacific Islands are primarily due to a shift away from the culture’s typical diet of root crops, toward sugary high-calorie foods instead. This has happened in almost every culture that shifts toward the Standard American Diet. Even in planes where people often live past 100, the newer generations – who consume a diet more like Americans – are dying younger, and getting sick sooner.
The people of the Pacific traditionally eat:
- Root vegetables and tubers, such as taro (also known as a cocoyam), sweet potatoes, and yams – all incredibly healthy and full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Coconuts – an incredible super food
- Citrus fruits – a great source of Vitamin C and other vitamins
- Seafood – a source of Omega 3s and other nutrients
- Seaweed – another super food known to prevent cancer, and regulate the thyroid
- A range of leafy greens – important for the many phytonutrients they contain, as well as fiber to help you feel full
Let’s hope that the new junk food ban will help people return to a non-Westernized diet, and regain their health.