A tale of 2 diets


olataga• Talofa lava everyone
• We are very lucky to call Australia home , however for many – we still think of Samoa and the beautiful easy going and relaxed lifestyle.
• Our customs and traditions are highly valued by our Aiga (family) both living in NZ and Australia and of course Samoa
• At the end we wish to balance this with the health issues that may arise and ways to improve our knowledge of knowing the best of 2 ways of eating – Traditional Samoan and Health wise
Samoans have higher risk obesity
• Obesity is measured by Body mass Kg / Height cm 2 Index BMI
• If one has a BMI greater then 30 – they are considered Obese
• Recent research in Aug 2016 showed that Samoans – in a high proportion carry a gene variant which predisposes to obesity .
• On coming to environment such as western countries We are shifting away from the traditional lifestyles and this can affect our biology. As we transition to a more calorie-dense processed food diet and decrease physical activity, this can tip the balance toward obesity in at-risk individuals who carry the genetic variation.
The effect of Migration to developed countries such as NZ and Australia
• Our lifestyle is busier – we are slaves to the clock , life is busy
• We are busy with school, work activities
• We usually take a car , and less time for physical activities such as walking
• Food is sometimes on the run and fast foods as we rush to go to our work, church activities . We have less time for food preparation and little appreciation for the quality.
• We have less or no time for physical exerises ,
• We are addicted to our iphones, TV remotes, and our TV couches .We are stressed and eat for comfort or at the wrong times.
untitled-6Common Samoan Foods
• The diet of many Samoans is not consistent with current Australian Dietary guidelines.
• This may be as we consume meals that are high in saturated fat, salt and /sugar and low in veges and whole grain cereals. Eg Corn beef and Taro in coconut cream
• Soft drinks is also the drink of choice and we tend eat large portion sizes , when we get together for a celebration or family event.
• Samoan Food and culture
• Traditionally – Food is a sign of wealth and more there is the better.
• At our community gatherings – The Matai (high Chief ) and church ministers are served first, and women and children last
• There are usually many left overs and trays of food , which can be consumed the next day etc
Health problems arising
Diabetes and heart disease
• Many of our family members are developing earlier presentations for High Blood Pressure and Heart disease due to high cholesterol and high salt in the diet
• Diabetes or Mai Suka is a common condition in our Samoan and other pacific family members
• We present to the family doctor very late or at hospital with severe complications


Role of Gp and allied Health
• As a GP in general practice for more than 22 years
• Dealing with our Samoan and other Pacific Patients with health problems related to Diabetes and other chronic diseases. It is so important to develop trust and rapport to try to bring about change and reduce their risk of severe complications such as renal failure and diabetes eye disease leading to blindness.
• We must refer to our allied support such as Diabetic educators or Dietians- however they need to be culturally sensitive to be able to communicate effectively and would need a Samoan interpreter or an English speaking family member, or even better come with some family members
Allied Health support workers
• In 2011, we had a great opportunity to take a Dietian, Diabetic educator and Exersie Physiologist from Diabetes Australia to the Mt Druit SDA to discuss ways to start to look at Diabetes awareness.
• Pastor Asofitu kindly interpreted all the talks and it was a great time of fellowship and starting the conversation on food and lifestyle choices to prevent Diabetes.


The role of the Samoan Community
• We have probably one of the biggest Pacific Island group in Australia – up to 19,200 identified as Samoan born residing in Australia with the last census in 2011 – this figure may be under rated due to the migration also from NZ
• It is very important as our next generation become educated and get qualifications in Law, Teaching, Social work, Medicine and Engineering so that we as a community recognize them and work with our local govts in Australia to improve health outcomes for our people living here.
Work in Sydney
• We ourselves have had great opportunity to work with Our Samoan Consulate General and his wife . Mr Etuale Fonoti on health promotion.
• Also working with our aboriginal elders Uncle Steve and our own community leaders
• Great opportunity to collaborate with Dr Paniani Patu and his lovely wife on community projects- great health awareness in recent years
The Role of the churches
• Our Church ministers are our leaders in our community
• They give wisdom and strength to may who come to seek a better life in Australia as well as spiritual leadership.
• Health practitioners and allied health must try to network with our ministers in order to educate our people
• We can then achieve the goals of reducing fatal events such as Heart attack and Stroke by improving the health literature and communication with Samoan patients most at risk .
• There is much work that needs to be done but it will take time and patience.
Physical Activity
It important to understand and respect the role of food and our community and church activities
• We should encourage more participation in the youth and cultural dances and choirs as it creates teamwork as it increases physical activity and mental wellbeing
• It allows people to meet and form new and positive relationships and more cultural celebrations!!
Health promotion
1. We need to increase our health knowledge in term of these common health problems – Diabetes, High blood pressure , Heart disease and Obesity
2. Health promotion needs to be in a cultural acceptable way to our Samoan community
3. Many of the Health resources need to be in an acceptable Samoan translation that is easy to understand , read and visualize .
4. We need dedicated health support workers to act as peer supports , as our very sick family members seek services in the community and hospital and GP setting
Good outcomes
• With the support of our allied health and health practitioners and community leaders
• Try to reduce big meals for small meals
• Try to reduce Fatty meals for lean meals
• Try to reduce heavy for light eg sauces
• Try to change fizzy drinks for water
• Try to increase activity to at least 30 mins every day
Final words
Yes we can do it. We can fight the obesity gene. Our children will learn from our messages and example
Tofa Soifua