Free healthy lifestyle programme in Canterbury helping Pasifika decrease chances of diabetes, heart disease through cooking classes

It's no secret a healthy lifestyle can improve your chances of enjoying a long life, but for Pasifika people it's crucial. 

New research into the impacts of a free, healthy lifestyle programme in Canterbury has revealed how easy it could be to decrease your chances of diabetes and heart disease. 

Fa'aosofia Daly, 61, signed up to Pegasus Health's Puāwai Kai healthy lifestyle programme wanting to lose weight - but walked away with a whole new mindset. 

"I'm a new person," Daly told Newshub. "I feel like I'm not the old Fa'aosofia that I used to be." 

Through cooking classes, the programme teaches people how to make small, simple changes. 

Allamanda Faatoese, a researcher from Christchurch's University of Otago campus, measured the impact of the programme among Pacific Island groups, looking at blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, weight and body fat.

"Our Pacific families love salt and some people will put a little pile on their plate to dab their food in, and so we suggest 'maybe even instead of having a pile of salt, just sprinkle salt over your food.'

"Change in biological markers shows there has been a shift in body fat percentage… we know that excess body fat does increase your risk of developing diabetes or heart disease," Dr Faatoese said of the study.

Pasifika have higher rates of diabetes and heart disease than the general population and are two and a half times more likely to die of the conditions at a younger age.

Watch the full story above.