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By Lindablue F. Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (February 9, 1999 - Saipan Tribune)---With the increasing number of diabetic cases in the CNMI, a health official has urged local residents to change their lifestyle by eating fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed food, said David Tuohey-Mote, Program Manager for Chronic Disease Control.

Diabetes remains the most common disease among indigenous people. Every year, 200 residents in the CNMI are found afflicted with diabetes. Records show that there are some 2,070 diabetic cases in the CNMI at present.

"It has something to do with the change in people's diet. Many people now prefer processed foods that come in boxes which for them taste better and more filling," said Tuohey-Mote.

He noted that people nowadays prefer processed foods which contain more salt, sugar and fats. For example, they prefer polished rice more than brown rice which has more nutrients, he said. Due to the high rate of diabetics in the CNMI, the Commonwealth Health Center has expanded its hemodialysis center to accommodate more patients.

Before the war, the local people on the island maintained a healthy lifestyle as they ate bread fruit, taro, yam, sweet potatoes, coconuts and seafood, said historian Sam McPhetres.

After Word War II, the locals made a drastic change in their lifestyle as the economy grew. Fewer and fewer people were fishing and farming, which made them develop a sedentary lifestyle.

"We're not saying that the local people should go back to their former source of livelihood. But we can learn a lot from the older people who led a simple life before," said McPhetres.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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