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Kolonia Town, Micronesia

Englberger L.,Island Food Community of Pohnpei | Lorennij R.,Ministry of Resources and Development | Taylor M.,Secretariat of the Pacific Community | Tuia V.S.,Secretariat of the Pacific Community | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Food Composition and Analysis

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and non-communicable diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes are serious health problems in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), a small island nation of the Pacific. These health problems are related to the trend towards over-consumption of unhealthy imported processed foods and neglect of traditional foods. Breadfruit ( Artocarpus altilis and Artocarpus mariannensis) is the most widely available traditional starch food for RMI people. The ripe fruit flesh is yellow or sometimes orange, as with the Mejwaan cultivar, indicative of carotenoid content. Carotenoid-rich foods can protect against VAD and non-communicable diseases. Yet little information on carotenoid content of Marshallese breadfruit cultivars is available. This study documents traditional knowledge of breadfruit cultivars using ethnography, and analyzed 6 breadfruit cultivars of 2 species, A. altilis and A. mariannensis, for provitamin A (β- and α-carotene) and total carotenoid content, using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The ripe seeded breadfruit Mejwaan contained strikingly rich concentrations of β-carotene (3540. μg/100. g fresh weight). Samples of other ripe and mature cultivars, characterized by lighter-colored flesh, contained medium- to low-carotenoid content (<5-102. μg/100. g fresh weight). As samples were harvested from field-grown plants, it should be noted that the quantity of carotenoids may vary when the same cultivars are planted in different sites. Local experts reported that Mejwaan was once common but is now becoming rare, and that people are now consuming its ripe flesh much less frequently; the discovery of Mejwaan's rich carotenoid content should be used to promote this cultivar for its important health benefits. © 2014 . Source

Englberger L.,Island Food Community of Pohnpei | Lorennij R.,RMI Ministry of Resources and Development | Taylor M.,Pacific Community Center for Pacific Crops and Trees
Acta Horticulturae

Breadfruit, Artocarpus mariannensis and Artocarpus altilis, is an important traditional staple food for the people of the Marshall Islands, located in the Pacific. However, its nutritional benefits are not recognized. In the Pacific generally, nutrition-related health problems of epidemic proportion (including high rates of vitamin A deficiency) exist, due to neglect of traditional food systems, cultivar rarity, changing lifestyles, migration to urban centers, increasing reliance on unhealthy imported foods, and food security vulnerability. The lack of nutrition information on breadfruit has contributed to its low value, in particular for seeded breadfruit Artocarpus mariannensis. This study focused on provitamin A carotenoid (beta-carotene) content of eight breadfruit cultivars, including ripe raw seeded breadfruit flesh, which previously was a common snack. As there is no opportunity for carotenoid analysis on this remote island, frozen samples must be hand-carried to faraway laboratories, which presented great challenges. The study also focused on traditional knowledge of existing breadfruit cultivars and safe propagation of breadfruit cultivars in tissue culture. For the first time, clear evidence was shown that the ripe under-utilized orange-fleshed seeded breadfruit 'Mejwaan', contains rich concentrations of beta-carotene (3540 μg/100 g), in contrast to samples of other ripe and mature cultivars characterized by lighter colored flesh. The results can be used to promote breadfruit and open new market opportunities. The findings can also be used by other Pacific islands, especially atolls, where this breadfruit cultivar has been a traditional food, and where nutrition-related health problems, food production, food security vulnerability and climate change are serious issues. Source

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and other countries throughout the Pacific are facing an epidemic of non-communicable disease health problems. These are directly related to the increased consumption of unhealthy imported processed foods, the neglect of traditional food systems, and lifestyle changes, including decreased physical activity. The FSM faces the double burden of malnutrition with both non-communicable diseases and micronutrient deficiencies, including vitamin A deficiency and anemia. To help increase the use of traditional island foods and improve health, the Island Food Community of Pohnpei has initiated a program in the FSM to support and promote local food policies, along with its Go Local awareness campaign. Such local food policies are defined broadly and include individual and family commitments, community group local food policies and policies established by government, including presidential proclamations and increased taxation on soft drinks. The aim of this paper is to describe this work. An inter-agency, community- and research-based, participatory and media approach was used. Partners are both non-governmental and governmental. The use of continuing awareness work along with local food policy establishment and the acknowledgement of the individuals and groups involved are essential. The work is still in the preliminary stage but ad hoc examples show that this approach has had success in increased awareness on health issues and improving dietary intake on both an individual and group basis. This indicates that further use of local food policies could have an instrumental impact in FSM as well as other Pacific Island countries in promoting local foods and improving dietary intake and health, including the control of non-communicable diseases and other dietary-related health problems. Source

Dietary- and lifestyle-related diseases are problems of epidemic proportion in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Public health resources to help prevent nutrition-related problems are limited. There is also concern about biodiversity, neglect of traditional staple foods, and threatened loss of traditional knowledge. A "Go Local" campaign was initiated to increase production and consumption of locally grown foods, for their Culture, Health, Environment, Economics, and Food security ("CHEEF") benefits. To provide updates and discuss local island food topics, the Island Food Community of Pohnpei launched an interagency email network in 2003. Interested members' email addresses were recorded in distribution lists, weekly/bi-weekly emails were sent and from these messages, a database was organized to record email topic details. An analysis of all emails up to July 2009 showed that membership had expanded to over 600 listed people from all FSM states, other Pacific Island countries and beyond. Information was shared on topics ranging from scientific findings of carotenoid content in local island food cultivars, to discussions on how daily habits related to island food use can be improved. Over 200 men and women, aged 22 to 80 years, contributed items, some indicating that they had shared emails to a further network at their workplace or community. In conclusion, this email network is a simple, cost-effective method to share information, create awareness, and mobilize island food promotion efforts with potential for providing health, biodiversity and other benefits of island foods to populations in the FSM and other countries. Source

Englberger L.,Island Food Community of Pohnpei | Lyons G.,University of Adelaide | Foley W.,Queensland Health | Daniells J.,Economic Development and Innovation | And 9 more authors.
Journal of Food Composition and Analysis

The Solomon Islands face problems of vitamin A deficiency and infectious diseases, including malaria. It is essential to identify nutrient-rich indigenous foods for preventing and alleviating these diseases. Previous work in Micronesia identified yellow/orange-fleshed carotenoid-rich banana cultivars, in particular Fe'i cultivars (characterized by upright bunches), with potential to alleviate vitamin A deficiency. Although there is a great diversity of Solomon Islands bananas, little is documented about these cultivars and their nutrient content. Using an ethnographic approach, this study aimed to identify nutrient-rich cultivars and to collect information relating to production and consumption. Seven Fe'i cultivars (not previously analyzed) and three non-Fe'i cultivars were assessed for flesh color, fruit size and other attributes and analyzed for provitamin A carotenoids (β- and α-carotene), total carotenoids and riboflavin. Five Fe'i and two non-Fe'i cultivars were identified as carotenoid-rich. Of 10 cultivars analyzed the concentrations of β-carotene equivalents ranged from 45 to 7124μg/100. g. Compared to cultivars with light-colored flesh, the yellow/orange-fleshed cultivars generally contained higher carotenoid concentrations. All Fe'i cultivars contained riboflavin, from 0.10 to 2.72. mg/100. g, some having substantial concentrations. The nutrient-rich cultivars, including Fe'i, should be promoted for their potential to contribute to vitamin A intake and overall health. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. Source

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