Impose tax on sugar products to tackle obesity

The Samoa Government should consider imposing taxes on high sugar-content products to reduce local consumption, and over the long-term address the country's obesity crisis.

That is the view of the World Health Organisation's Representative to Samoa, Dr. Basul Baghirov, in response to a Samoa Observer article last month on the death of 18-year-old Patrick Jason Kilali Te'o. 

The teen died a fortnight ago at home with his mother Aneriueta Seiuli Te'o claiming he died from obesity, and went on to make a public appeal for parents in Samoa to watch their children's diet. 

Dr. Baghirov said the incidences of obesity are high in Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga and other countries in the region, which he described as the "upper classes of obesity".

Solutions to tackle the crisis include the imposition of taxes on high sugar-products and the implementing of awareness and education programs in communities and schools, which Dr Baghirov said would lead to the generation of conversation around obesity and how to address it. 

Daily exercises can also help to reduce obesity, added the W.H.O. official, who said he is seeing a lot of people climbing Mt. Vaea as a form of exercise. 

"And also a number of activities can help reduce obesity from our bodies. I always go to Mt Vaea and I see a lot of people hiking, which is a perfect example of of exercising especially with our younger generations," he said. 

TV1 Samoa managing director, Galumalemana Faiesea Lei Sam-Matafeo, said 10 obese people are currently competing in her station's Fika Fou programme. 

The programme focuses on building a healthy community and tackling obesity, with Galumalemana saying the idea is not about winning money but changing a person's life. 

She said one of the participants weighed 209.00 kg and lost 28.03 kg, which set the record for being the highest loss in the competition so far. 

Businessman and owner of C.C.K Samoa, Ken Newton, told this newspapers that he does his daily walk around Tuanaimato and he feels strong and active. 

"I have to keep fit to keep everything going. I have been walking most of my life and see where I'm at? I am now old and I can still feel strong from keeping a good diet so maybe it would be nice for Samoa.

"It's all about convincing yourself to do better. You can have anyone telling you you should do this, you should do that but it all depends with your choice," he added. 

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