The prime minister of Tonga has challenged leaders of other Pacific nations to lose weight. He is asking them to join the fight against obesity by taking part in a one-year-long weight loss challenge. The prime minister, Akilisi Pohiva, told the Samoa Observer newspaper that he will set the challenge when leaders meet at the Pacific Island Forum in the tiny nation of Nauru in September. He said: "We should all get together for a weight-loss competition for an entire year, so when we meet the following year, we will weigh in again and see who has lost the most." He added: "We have been [talking about] the same issue, over the years but it doesn't seem to work."
Mr Pohiva also spoke about Tonga's life expectancy going down because of obesity and weight-related issues. He said: "It is now down to 68 years old, yet at one stage it was 71. It has reduced significantly." He hopes his weight-loss challenge will encourage Pacific islanders to lose weight. He said: "Once the leaders are adapting to that mindset they would be determined to get their people [doing] the same...and go from there." The Secretary General of the Pacific Island Forum said Pacific island nations were losing their fight against child obesity. The World Health Organization said 20 per cent of children between the ages of five and 19 were obese in 10 Pacific island countries.