Lifestyle & Belief

How did people in the South Pacific get so fat?


This boy weighs 160 kg (353 lbs).


China Photos

Eight out of the world's 10 fattest countries are in the South Pacific, according to the World Health Organization.

It's a jarring image, since most people still think idyllic paradise full of skinny hot people when they hear the words "Pacific island nation." 

But it's true.

And one of the eight is Tonga (the others are Micronesia, the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Palau and Kiribati), and in Tonga, 90 percent of people are overweight. Sixty percent are obese, by WHO standards.

For a people that used to subsist mainly on fish and vegetables, and weighed on average 75 kg (165 lbs) in 1973, they now weigh on average 95 kg (209 lbs), according to the most recent numbers.

A tradition of feasting and an influx of imported, processed food is mainly to blame, say authorities.

(Read more: Behold the world's 10 fattest countries)

But a Tongan dentist, interviewed in this Al Jazeera report, says he can personally make a dent in the crisis. 

It's simple: Wire everyone's jaws shut.

He says he has seen remarkable results with this method. One patient featured in the report lost 11 kgs in just two weeks of only being able to injest a liquid diet.

Doc says you better carry around a pair of scissors, though, just in case you eat some suspect shrimp and need to, ahem, snip your way out.

Another plan, according to the Minister of Health, is to put a tax on fatty meats in cans, which have become a mainstay of the Tongan diet since the country has opened up in the last quarter century or so.

Tax on fatty meats vs. not being able to chew. It's a tough call.

In Lifestyle & BeliefLifestyleBusiness, Economics and JobsEconomicsHealth & MedicineHealthPoliticsThe Rice Bowl.

Tagged: Asia.