The Problem of Obesity Rather than Hunger in Nauru

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NAURU — Despite the high 90 percent unemployment rate and the fact that poverty remains prevalent in this small island country, hunger in Nauru is not exactly a major concern. However, that doesn’t mean that the nation doesn’t experience any problems concerning food. The people of Nauru do not suffer from lack of food, but rather from lack of nutrients.

Nauru, which was once the richest island in the South Pacific, became impoverished after years of phosphate mining. The abundance of phosphate led to the island nation’s wealth and success. With phosphate exports helping the economy prosper, Nauru had the second highest GDP per capita.

Unfortunately, Nauru’s economic success did not last forever. As phosphate supplies dwindled, the people lost a major source of income. In addition, they also lost the ability to farm. The phosphate mining damaged the arable land, making it nearly impossible to cultivate. Without agriculture, the people of Nauru are unable to grow the vegetables and fruits they need to sustain a healthy diet. As a result, countries like Australia now provide them with more food. Therefore, hunger in Nauru is not of concern.

With help from others, the people of Nauru are given a wider range of food options. However, that doesn’t mean that they are eating healthfully. It’s been reported that about five percent of Nauru’s food imports are considered to be “vegetable products,” and as vegetables are an important staple of a well-balanced diet, this statistic proves incredibly alarming.

With more artificial food provided than vegetables, the people of Nauru are more likely to be obese; and numbers prove this prediction to be accurate. According to the World Health Organization, 94.5 percent of Nauru’s population — who are at least 15 years old or older — are overweight. In fact, Nauru is currently ranked as the most obese country in the world.

The Nauran government has realized that the nation faces an obesity epidemic and is making an effort to combat it. In 2014, a sugar tax was placed. By making sugary items more expensive, the people of Nauru are less likely to buy them, since they do not possess a lot of money.

If Naurans were more financially stable, then they would be able to afford healthier foods; with a stronger economy, the people of Nauru would have the opportunity to improve their diets. Fortunately, Australia is helping them recover in more ways than food. The country’s government plans to provide about $25.4 million in total ODA to Nauru from 2017-2018.

With help from other countries and the Nauran government, the likelihood that the nation’s economy and health will prosper once again is incredibly high.

Raven Rentas

Photo: Flickr

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