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Leveraging Cultural Knowledge to Improve Diet and Health among Affiliated Pacific Islander Populations

Published:April 06, 2015DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.02.009
      The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States, such as monitoring trends of overweight and obesity.

      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. About the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/about_nhanes.htm. Revised February 3, 2014. Accessed October 27, 2014.

      The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey program does not include data from the noncontiguous US states of Alaska and Hawaii or the US Affiliated Pacific Island (USAPI) jurisdictions of American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI), Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). Despite the serious underrepresentation of the Pacific Region in surveillance and obesity research, the high prevalence of chronic conditions in the region has prompted the USAPI jurisdictions (ie, American Samoa, CNMI, Guam, the FSM, Palau, and the RMI) in 2010 to declare a state of emergency.

      Pacific Islands Health Officers Association. Board Resoulution #48-01, Declaring a regional state of health emergency due to the epidemic of non-communicable diseases in the United States-Affiliated Pacific Islands. Pacific Islands Health Officers Association website. http://www.pihoa.org/fullsite/newsroom/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/06/NCD_Emergency_Declaration.pdf. May 4, 2010. Accessed October 27, 2014.

      Leading causes of morbidity and mortality for adults in the USAPI jurisdictions are from noncommunicable diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. The primary prevention of chronic conditions is of great focus and concern; thus, the high proportion of Pacific Island adults who are overweight and obese has directed attention to the prevention of overweight and obesity among adults and children in the Pacific. Whereas nutrition plays a pivotal role in addressing these health issues, there is a dearth of research to understand the diets of Pacific Islanders, a growing population group in the United States.

      Hixson L, Hepler BB, Kim MO. The Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander population: 2010. US Census Bureau website. http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-12.pdf. Accessed September 23, 2013.

      This lack of information regarding the populations of USAPI jurisdictions was the motivation for the work reported in this month’s Journal by Aitaoto and colleagues.
      • Aitaoto N.
      • Campo S.
      • Snetselaar L.G.
      • et al.
      Formative research to inform nutrition interventions in Chuuk and the US Pacific.
      This research editorial highlights the value of the methods used and their potential to support positive outcomes, provide complementary information from research activities among the USAPI populations, and the research gaps. We also discuss the importance of continued research to provide the foundation for evidence-based guidance for Pacific populations, which comprise more than 1.2 million people living in the United States and are represented in every state.

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      2. Pacific Islands Health Officers Association. Board Resoulution #48-01, Declaring a regional state of health emergency due to the epidemic of non-communicable diseases in the United States-Affiliated Pacific Islands. Pacific Islands Health Officers Association website. http://www.pihoa.org/fullsite/newsroom/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/06/NCD_Emergency_Declaration.pdf. May 4, 2010. Accessed October 27, 2014.

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      Biography

      K. D. Cassel is an assistant professor, Cancer Prevention and Control Program, University of Hawaii Cancer Center, Honolulu.

      Biography

      C. J. Boushey is an associate professor, Epidemiology Program, University of Hawaii Cancer Center, Honolulu.