Growth and Childhood Obesity: Perspective of Pacific Island Children in New Zealand

  • Elaine Rush
  • Sarah Bristow


Pacific Island adults and children, living in New Zealand, by international standards have an extremely high prevalence of obesity. This chapter reviews the pattern of weight increase from birth to 6 years in a cohort of Pacific children in the Pacific Island Families study and in other cross-sectional studies that include Pacific children living in New Zealand. Factors shown to influence birth weight and growth include maternal size, breastfeeding, smoking and food patterns. At 4 years, birth weight, maternal size and smoking were positively related to subsequent body size, and breastfeeding, fruit and vegetable, and fat food consumption were negatively associated. In all surveys Pacific children were consistently larger than Maori and European children of the same age. Changes in fat mass and fat-free mass with time were examined using Hattori charts and the rapid rate of growth in Pacific children was described in terms of fat mass index and fat-free mass index. Because the larger body size can be tracked from birth it is important for both treatment and prevention that the aetiology, the time course from conception and the associated environmental pressures are also considered. This understanding should be applied to other populations exposed to similar obesogenic environments and intergenerational pressures.


Gestational Diabetes Mellitus International Obesity Task Force Pacific People Pacific Population Pacific Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Percent body fat


Body mass index


Centres for disease control


Child nutrition survey


Fat-free mass


Fat-free mass index


Fat mass


Fat mass index


International Obesity Task Force


Type 2 diabetes mellitus


World Health Organisation


SDScore standard deviation score



The Pacific Island Family Study is funded by grants from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, the Health Research Council of New Zealand, the Child Health Foundation and the Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition ResearchAuckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand

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