Obesity: Glycemia, insulinemia and thrifty genotype aggravated by transformation of diet in the Fijians

From: Jimaima V Lako
In: General Practitioner Volume 15 Number 4 2007

Abstract: Shifting and transformation of diet or nutrition transition may be inevitable. It has been experienced all over the world including Fiji and the other Pacific regional countries. In Fiji, the pattern and the structure of nutrition transition has run in parallel with the incidence and high prevalence of overweight, obesity and nutritionally-related chronic diseases. Modification of diet, especially deviation from a traditional food pattern has affected the nutritional composition of meals both in quality and quantity. This transition in turn has affected the health status of individuals. Changes in composition of diets affects the nutritional environment that feeds the genetic system. Significant deviation of the nutritional intake away from what is genetically desirable is likely to contribute to fat disposition, obesity and nutritionally-related chronic diseases. This perhaps may be in the form of dedisposition of thrifty genotype and insulinemia in majority of individuals. It may appear that the changing dietary habits of Western civilisation, coupled with reduced physical activity may have compromised the complex homeostatic mechanism and thus disturbed the homeostatic system resulting in fat disposition which ultimately lead to weight gain. Obesity is now considered one of the major public health problems in the world. Its prevalence rates the world over, both in affluent and poor nations in all segments of population in young and old of both sexes, is increasing. The disease is sometimes regarded as “globesity” due its global epidemic trend. Like other developing countries with an increasing rate of urbanisation, Fiji has entered a phase of nutrition transition especially the change in food sources has contributed to the change in nutritional composition of meals. This leads to a gradual change in health status patterns;  from a gradual increase in body weight to overweight, obesity and to prevalence of nutritionally related chronic diseases. Strategies that may help reduce the development, incidence and prevalence of overweight and obesity in Fiji include the screening and diagnoses of liver dysfunction, syndrome x, glucose intolerance in order to develop some intervention programmes appropriate for such cases.