How has the Certificate in Pacific Nutrition influenced attitudes and behaviours of graduates families and communities?
Tapaleao, Fa'amanu Gloria
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Prevalence of obesity amongst Pasifika communities in New Zealand has increased exponentially over the years, with nutritional choices playing a leading role. Many researchers and health professionals have attempted to devise solutions and programmes to counteract the obesity epidemic among Pasifika people, with some focusing on education and nutritional behaviour. The study reported on here evaluated the influence of a Certificate in Pacific (CPN) course on the behaviours and attitudes of participants who graduated between the years 2011 and 2016. It also aimed to explore how the CPN course influenced the attitudes and behaviours of their families and communities. The Talanoa methodology was used to individually interview eight participants who were of Samoan, Tongan and Maori ethnicity (two male, six female) living in the southern part of metropolitan Auckland, New Zealand. The researcher encouraged participants to share their experiences with the CPN course and how it might have influenced their dietary attitudes and behaviours. The findings uncovered six recurrent themes: educating yourself and understanding; family first; being of service; walking the talk; learning from past experiences and breaking habits. All participants felt that the CPN course had had a positive influence on the attitudes and behaviours of their families, communities and themselves. Participants said that the CPN course had taught them practical information that they felt their Pasifika communities and families would be able to adhere to and actively implement in their lives. The CPN course provided participants with healthy alternatives to cooking commonly eaten Pasifika foods, thereby making it more achievable for participants, their families and communities to initiate long lasting, sustainable dietary habit changes. Furthermore, participants felt strongly that in order for Pasifika people to adhere to the messages of healthy eating, they needed strong Pasifika role models, like the graduates of the CPN course, who were living examples of the messages they shared. As only a small sample of graduates from the CPN course were interviewed, further research would be needed to explore the impact of the course across all graduates.