Healthy eating Samoa's nutrition challenge
While hunger and food availability are not major concerns, Samoans' increasing lack of access to nutritious food is affecting up to one-quarter of the population, a review of national food security has found.
One-in-five people in Samoa are considered moderately food insecure, a Government sanctioned report on Samoa’s progress towards United Nations (U.N.) development targets found. (The report found that some 2.4 per cent of the population is considered severely food insecure.)
But the draft “State of Food Security and Nutrition in Samoa" report notes that accessing healthy food is the nation's biggest concern and affects one-in-four Samoans.
The report, jointly authored by the U.N. and the Samoan Government, says that agricultural productivity is improving including the proportion of small-scale farmers engaging in sustainable, organic, and commercial farming.
But access to affordable and locally produced healthy food presents an ongoing challenge, the report which examined the nation's progress towards U.N. development targets found.
The challenge is only made more difficult when cheaper processed imported food can be found in abundance.
“Extreme hunger is not a concern in Samoa as food availability is not an issue given that most of Samoan households have access to land for agriculture and food production purposes, and the soil is relatively fertile,” the report says.
“A Samoan consumes on average 2,480 [calories] per day which is enough to meet the basic energy requirements. Less than one person in twenty is undernourished or not accessing enough food to meet their basic energy requirements.
“Food insecurity is the limited access to food by an individual or households due to lack of money or other resources. This does not take into account access to food through support by the extended family or communities where money or other resources may not be needed.
“About 22.4 per cent of the population are moderately food insecure or did not have regular access to nutritious and sufficient food even if they were not necessarily suffering from hunger.
“Food insecurity is more prevalent in Savai’i and rural Upolu than in urban Apia. Given the wide access of Samoans to land, whenever poverty and food insecurity is publicly debated it is not uncommon to find people referring to ‘hunger’ as a result of one’s laziness.
“Various national studies and anecdotal evidence show that ‘over nutrition, over-eating or [...] poor nutrition [...] is a major issue.”
The report notes that problems with national nutrition have only been rising as the country’s reliance on food imports grows.
“There has been a 60 per cent increase in imported and often poor nutrition but more affordable food between 2005 and 2014.
“Diet-related non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases are resulting in many Samoans being chronically ill, having poor quality of life or dying prematurely.”