emma apatu american samoa 1

Photo: Dr. Aga, (preceptor; Emma Apatu, Kasie Richards (East Tennessee State DrPH candidate); Aufa'i Areta, Associate Director/Acting Extension Program Coordinator)

Talofa (greetings)!  I arrived in American Samoa almost a week ago, and have fallen in love with the Samoan culture.  I have found the people to be very friendly, the fresh foods are delicious, and the oceanic and mountainous views to be postcard worthy.

 I have also been fascinated by the beauty of the traditional Samoan garb.   It is very common to find men wearing Lava Lavas which is a cloth like wrap skirt, and the women to be clad in beautifully printed dresses complimented by a flower in their hair.

 As I witness the beauty of this island, I have also taken note of the obesity problem.   It baffles me to see people of an island that has a plethora of nutritious food to have one of the world’s highest obesity rates.

The World Health Organization attributes American Samoan’s obesity problem on the fact that a great number of the people have stopped eating traditional foods and have adapted diets rich in processed foods.  A few days ago, I talked to some of the local people, and they also agree that a great part of the obesity problem is due to poor diet choices. 

Today I met with my field experience preceptors Dr. Aga and Aufa'I  Areta, at the American Samoan community college.  The meeting today was very productive and Kasie and I will meet with Dr. Aga and Aufa’I Areta who is the Associate Director/Acting Extension Program Coordinator later this week to finalize the scope of our community based Food and Nutrition project. 

I am looking forward to next upcoming weeks!