Why are the top 10 countries with the highest obesity rates all Pacific islands?


Is it a genetic thing? I know Pacific islanders can be prone to putting on a lot of size, muscular and otherwise, or is it something to do with the diet in the region, or influence from the West?

In: Biology

Cultural influence of the western diet, genetics, and poverty all play a role in that.

Readily available and cheap food that’s full of high fructose core syrup and other carbs for the poverty part, genetic dispositions, etc.

It is I believe related to traditional cultural pressures to be large. Eating habits compliment this.

I remember learning in anthropology (20 years ago, so there might be more current info out there) that it was likely an evolutionary advantage. Many Pacific Islanders traveled the ocean covering great distances by canoe. Even if it is warm on land, traveling in an open boat, with sea spray hitting you all the time, is cold business. Fat stores helped immensely.
Additionally having a larger frame and carrying extra weight was a sign of wealth in some places, because it meant you were eating well.

I remember we read about a remote island in the Pacific that got television in the 1980s or 1990s. There was a sudden epidemic of eating disorders on the island immediately following the introduction of television. Western beauty ideals hit the community hard, and caused a lot of chaos, depression, and self esteem issues.

Another reason will be the type of food available. Small islands don’t necessarily have a lot of space to grow fresh fruits and veggies. Everything pretty much comes in on boat. Healthy and fresh food doesn’t ship well, canned food chock full of preservatives, salt and sugar does.

It’s cultural. There was a long-standing cultural belief that big = beautiful in these places. With food now being abundant thanks to modern technology, it was possible for everyone to eat to a degree far in excess of what was previously possible.