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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - American Journal of Human Biology
Title Impact of Modernization on Adult Body Composition on Five Islands of Varying Economic Development in Vanuatu
Volume 27
Issue 6
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 832-844
URL http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25988686
Objective: The Republic of Vanuatu, similar to other South Pacific island nations, is undergoing a rapid health transition as a consequence of modernization. The pace of modernization is uneven across Vanuatu's 63 inhabited islands, resulting in differential impacts on overall body composition and prevalence of obesity among islands, and between men and women. In this study, we investigated (1) how modernization impacts body composition between adult male and female Melanesians living on four islands of varying economic development in Vanuatu, and (2) how body composition differs between adult Melanesians and Polynesians living on rural islands in Vanuatu. Methods: Anthropometric measurements were taken on adult male and female Melanesians aged 18 years and older (n?=?839) on the islands of Ambae (rural), Aneityum (rural with tourism), Nguna (rural with urban access), and Efate (urban) in Vanuatu, in addition to Polynesian adults on Futuna (rural). Results: Mean measurements of body mass and fatness, and prevalence of obesity, were greatest on the most modernized islands in our sample, particularly among women. Additionally, differences between men and women became more pronounced on islands that were more modernized. Rural Polynesians on Futuna exhibited greater body mass, adiposity, and prevalence of obesity than rural Melanesians on Ambae. Conclusions: We conclude that Vanuatu is undergoing an uneven and rapid health transition resulting in increased prevalence of obesity, and that women are at greatest risk for developing obesity-related chronic diseases in urbanized areas in Vanuatu.

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