Report Claims Tonga 4th Most Obese Nation In The World

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Both Tongan men and women found to have same risk of NCDs

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Nov. 28, 2013) – A new report states that Tonga is the fourth most over-weight country in the world, and that Non-Communicable Diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, neoplasms and diabetes are a leading cause of adult death, while data showed that 36 percent of Tongan boys and 54 percent of Tongan girls were over-weight or obese. Death rates in the most productive age groups are three times higher than in Australia and New Zealand

A Millennium Development Goal Acceleration Framework Report and an Action Plan to combat and reduce non-communicable diseases in Tonga were presented to Hon. Lisiate 'Akolo, Tonga's Minister of Finance by Ms Osnat Lubrani, the new UN Resident Coordinator and Development Programme Resident Representative, yesterday afternoon, November 27 at the Fa'onelua Convention center.

Ms Osnat Lubrani said that the Plan was initiated by world leaders at a summit in 2010 and the UNDP has been preparing the MGD Acceleration Framework Reports Action Plan to combat NCDs for 40 countries, including Tonga.

NCDs consist Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), Cancer, Diabetes and Chronic Respiratory disease, has been identified as the dominant cause of adult mortality in Tonga, registering 28.6 to 36.3% for males and 20.9 to 27.7% for females from 2005 to 2009.

According to the report Tonga is the fourth most over-weight country in the world. The average weight for a Tongan woman increased by 21.1kg  over 30 years to reach 95kg, and the weight for Tonan males increased by 17.4kg to 95.7kg. Moreover, data showed that 36 percent of boys and 54 percent of girls were over-weight or obese.


Alarmingly, men and women have relatively the same risk of having NCDs as early as 25 years old, with a worsened scenario by the age of 45 to 64 years. This is the most productive age of their lives and most of them have vital roles for their families, communities and the national development of Tonga.

Cardiovascular diseases, neoplasms and diabetes are the leading cause of adult mortality in Tonga.

Tonga faces a double burden: communicable, maternal and neonatal deaths still account for about 22% of total deaths of all ages, whilst NCDs account for 74%of total deaths of all ages, most of which are premature.

Mortality by cause (% of all deaths), 2008: Cardiovascular diseases 38%, Communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional 22%, Other NCDs 15%, Cancers 9%, Respiratory diseases 7%, Diabetes 5% and Injuries 4%.

Adult mortality (15 to 59 years) is estimated at 26.7 percent for males and 19.8 percent for females. This rate is roughly three times higher than that of neighbouring developed countries such as New Zealand and Australia.

The Tongan government has declared that combating NCDs is now among Tonga's highest national development priorities.

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