REPORT SAYS KAVA POSES HEALTH THREAT TO FIJI ISLANDERS

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 5, 1999 - PACNEWS)---A research paper by a former University of the South Pacific post-graduate student indicates that over-consumption of traditional kava poses a health risk to Fiji islanders.

Ms. Sereima Nasilisili presented her report, "Social and Behavioral Issues Related to Kava Consumption," at the National Forum on Drug and Substance Abuse meeting held recently near Suva.

According to her report, most Kava drinkers studied were over 40 years of age and were susceptible to several major illnesses associated with the traditional drink.

"Health problems are often reflections of a poor nutritional status in a population. The prevalence of obesity and overweight (individuals) in the community suggests the possibility that the Kava drinking patterns found in the population may have had some influence," the report states.

"The majority of these drinkers were obese and overweight. In Fiji, weight gain after 40 years of age is associated with the onset of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases," she reports.

"While the drink may have served well among the matured members of society by ensuring the perpetuation of traditions in early societies, it appears to have become a detriment to health today, as lifestyles have changed dramatically."

The report recommended that anti-Kava awareness education programs and the organization of workshops at sub-divisional, divisional and national levels should be implemented.

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