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New Team Of Graduates On Track To Fight Pacific Obesity

15th December 2011

Pacific populations from the Far North to Waikato will be the first to benefit from a graduation ceremony taking place at Sorrento in the Park, Cornwall Park, Auckland, this Friday, December 16th 2011.

In total, 58 students will be acknowledged for attaining the AUT University-accredited ‘Certificate in Pacific Nutrition (CPN).’

The course is run and taught by the Heart Foundation’s Pacific Heartbeat Team. The aim is to reduce high levels of obesity and diabetes in Pacific communities and provide hands-on learning and practical nutrition information that is scientifically-based.

Students learn how to modify recipes to reduce saturated fat and control the portion sizes of less healthy ingredients, while still retaining the goodness and taste. Healthy aspects of the Pacific diet are also encouraged via increase the intake of fruit and vegetables.

Pacific Heartbeat also delivers a Mentoring and Support programme which offers selected graduates of the CPN course the opportunity to attend a ‘Train-the-Trainer’ course. The focus of the programme is to enable students to be confident and competent when facilitating nutrition sessions in the community.

Along with the CPN graduates, nine inaugural ‘Train-the-Trainer’ graduates will also be recognised.

“Unfortunately Pacific peoples are a high-risk population,” says Mafi Funaki-Tahifote, Pacific Heartbeat Nutritionist. “Yet we know that reducing obesity and lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure have been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

In addition to two CPN classes in Auckland, some CPN students have studied further afield and will travel from as far away as Hokianga and Hamilton to graduate. The graduates are now preparing to take vital heart health knowledge to their communities.

"Our students are passionate about reducing the incidence of diet related health problems in Pacific peoples,” Mafi says. “This course gives them the skills and confidence to take basic nutrition information and advice into their communities.”

Plenty of support is expected for the graduating students. One Samoan CPN graduate – a 70 year old grandmother – has advised four generations of her family will be there to support her.

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Background Information

The Pacific Heartbeat ‘Certificate in Pacific Nutrition’ course is funded through the Ministry of Health with certificates awarded by the Auckland University of Technology. The PHB Programme is a community health promotion initiative of the Heart Foundation established in 1991, with the primary objective to make a difference to the health of Pacific peoples.



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