Dietary intake, exercise, obesity and noncommunicable disease in rural and urban populations of three pacific island countries

Richard Taylor, Jacqui Badcock, Hilary King, Karen Pargeter, Paul Zimmet, Theto Fred, Margaret Lund, Helen Ringrose, Francois Bach, Rui Lin Wang, Tim Sladden

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Dietary intake surveys of rural and urban communities in three Pacific Island countries were conducted using an adjusted 24-hour dietary recall method. Dietary survey samples were drawn from noncommunicable disease surveys of Melanesians and Indians in Fiji, Micronesians in Kiribati and Melanesians in Vanuatu. Comparisons of total energy and macronutrient intakes and of obesity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, serum cholesterol and physical activity levels revealed similar rural/urban trends. Urban subjects were more obese than rural ones, had higher prevalence rates of diabetes and hypertension, and generally had higher cholesterol levels. Rural subjects were leaner, suffered less from diabetes and hypertension, and had greater total energy intakes than urban dwellers. Rural people ate a greater proportion of carbohydrates, while urban subjects ate proportionally more protein and fat, apart from the outer Kiribati atolls with high coconut intakes. Rural subjects in all three studies had higher levels of physical activity. These studies provide persuasive evidence that exercise as well as diet has a significant effect on rural/urban differentials in obesity and noncommunicable disease, and that energy intake reflects energy expenditure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-293
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American College of Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Dietary intake
  • Energy intake
  • Fiji
  • Hypertension
  • Kiribati
  • Melanesia
  • Micronesia
  • Noncommunicable disease
  • Obesity
  • Physical activity
  • Rural/urban differentials
  • Vanuatu

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