Saturday, March 12, 2011
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Youth Health and Fitness Day Event Date: April 2, 2011
Location/Venue: Los Angeles, California, UCLA Campus (tentative)
Host: The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders/The President’s Advisory
Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Lead Commissioners: Hines Ward, Sefa Aina,
and Kamuela Enos) and California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs (Lead
Commissioner: Tana Lepule)
Objective: The President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (the
Commission) has prioritized addressing the alarming and increasing rate of overweight and obesity
plaguing Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities as foremost in its outreach
Obesity and diabetes have been a growing concern in the United States for a number of years and a
catalyst for the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign. This issue is particularly dire in the Native
Hawai`ian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities.
In a report released by the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, data indicate roughly 1 out
of 5 NHPI high school youth (20.4%) are obese, one of the highest percentages among all racial
groups in the United States; and 1 out of 3 NHPI high school youth (33.5%) are likely to be
overweight or obese.
Commissioner Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers is leading this effort as an advocate for the NFL’s
Play 60 campaign, which encourages youth to be physically active for at least 60 minutes per day.
Joining Commissioner Ward are fellow Commissioners, Sefa Aina and Kamuela Enos, both of whom
are active members of the NHPI community in California and Hawaii respectively. With the support of
the White House Initiative staff led by Executive Director Kiran Ahuja, the issue of childhood obesity in
the NHPI community is receiving the necessary attention and energy needed to combat it.
Event Format: On April 2, 2011 at the UCLA campus (tentative), the Commission will host a half-day
“Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Health and Fitness Day” featuring exercise, healthy foods, and
routine health check-ups. In line with the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign message, the program
will include the following components to promote healthy eating and physical activity:
Speakers and Presentations (A program that will include the Commissioners as well as leaders
and celebrities in the NHPI community who will deliver key messages.)
Physical Activity Stations (Run by current NHPI collegiate athletes.)
Health Village (NHPI community-based health advocates and local Federally Qualified Health
Clinics serving the highest concentrations of NHPI.)
Diet and Healthy Food Village (We intend on inviting dieticians to help encourage
healthy food choices, and chefs who know how to make cultural dishes more healthconscious.)
This event will target the NHPI communities in Southern California, home to the largest
population of NHPIs after Hawaii. The Commission will coordinate outreach efforts
with NHPI churches and other cultural/community centers to bring their families and
friends however, the focus for the day will be the NHPI youth and combating childhood
Multi-Media NHPI Youth Collaborative Potential: This event will generate an opportunity for
collaboration with one of the nation’s premiere digital media programs - Hawai`i based Waianae
High School’s Searider Productions (http://www.seariderproductions.com). Searider
Productions serves one of the largest concentrations of Native Hawaiians in the world, and, with
support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, utilize digital media to increase academic
proficiencies in one of Hawai`i’s most at-risk communities. Over the course of its 18 years of
existence, Searider has grown into a national media powerhouse, from winning the Robert F.
Kennedy Journalism Award in 2008, to consistently taking top honors at the prestigious Student
Television Network annual challenge. Many of Searider’s most successful work have focused on
issues facing the Hawaiian community, including award winning shorts on childhood obesity.
“Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) populations are at much greater risk than other Americans for inactivityrelated diseases, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and some cancers.
Thus, it is a matter of concern that NHPIs are typically found to be less active than their White counterparts, and a large
proportion of NHPIs do not meet current physical activity recommendations.”
According to the U.S. Census 2000 data, there are approximately1.1 million NHPI people or
0.4% of the total population in the United States. Although NHPIs are found in every state, they
are most concentrated in the states of Hawai`i, California, and Utah. Southern California is
home to more than half of all NHPI communities living in California.
According to the World Health Organization, three of the top ten obese nations in the world
are from the Pacific Islands. In American Samoa 93.5% of the population is obese, and this
trend has followed the community into the continental U.S.
As studies have shown, NHPI’s have seen both their traditional diets, and their traditional
lifestyles altered by Westernization. Coming from a subsistence culture/lifestyle to a more
sedentary one has had disastrous effects on the health of the NHPI community. Within urban
cities, specifically in places like Los Angeles, CA, cheap-calories, lack of green spaces, and
under-funded afterschool/extracurricular sports activities have only encouraged this problem.