SUVA, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- More than 30 percent of children in Fiji are suffering from all sorts of sicknesses because of poor diets, said a recent report by the UN children's fund UNICEF.
According to Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) on Wednesday, 34 percent of children in Fiji are overweight or obese and 8 percent are undernourished.
UNICEF Pacific Representative Sheldon Yett said that almost two in every three children between six months and two years of age are not fed food that supports the rapid growth of their bodies.
This puts them at risk of poor brain development, weak learning outcomes, low immunity, increased infections and in many cases even death, Yett said, adding that there is a huge problem of overweight, and roughly one in eight children in Fiji are undernourished or underfed.
Yett called on stakeholders to work together under the leadership of the government with civil societies and the private sector to support organizations like UNICEF in addressing this problem of diet in children.
He said as children begin transitioning to soft or solid foods around the six-month mark, too many are introduced to the wrong kind of diet.
Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has reiterated the need to educate Fijian children about healthy lifestyles and eating traditional foods other than being addicted to junk food.
He said programs like school gardening should be developed in Fiji.
UNICEF said that in terms of food advertising for children, there is a need to redirect the aggressive marketing that targets children.
It said the first step is really to educate parents to make healthy choices and regulate food that is marketed to children so that they can enjoy wholesome meals containing balanced components of food.
UNICEF said the media can actually play a very significant role by highlighting both the problem of obesity and also the solution.