Data compiled over the past two decades has found that all four major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Tonga are on the rise – diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases. According to the latest WHO data, NCDs accounted for four out of five leading causes of deaths in Tonga, which is among the highest in the Pacific.
The increase in risky behaviors such as smoking, poor diet, harmful alcohol intake, and physical inactivity are acknowledged as the major contributing factors to the rise in NCDs in Tonga. Almost one in two men smoke, and smoking appears to be increasing among young women in Tonga. These are all strongly linked to ‘unhealthy environments’, and require complementary policies, regulations and legislation interventions.