Research / Culturally centred health interventions for Māori and Pacific peoples

Pasifika Prediabetes Youth Empowerment Programme

Empowering Pacific Island communities to lead healthier lifestyles

illustration of community-centred health
Funding: $999,850 Timeframe: October 2017 – September 2020



Take | Issue

Pacific peoples have higher rates of obesity and prediabetes at younger ages than other groups in the New Zealand population. Around 13.6% of Pacific youth aged 15-24, and 29.6% of Pacific adults aged 25-44, have prediabetes (compared to 7% and 16% respectively for the same age groups in the New Zealand European population).  If left untreated, prediabetes may develop into type 2 diabetes and lead to significant health problems in later life.

Whāinga | Aim

This study investigated whether Pacific communities could be empowered to lead healthier, independent lives through community-led lifestyle intervention programmes which use a culturally-centred approach and consider the social-physical-cultural realities of the environment. In particular, the project examined whether such interventions are effective in reducing the prevalence of risk factors for prediabetes.

Huarahi I Whāia | Approach

Working collaboratively with Pacific communities, this study implemented and evaluated two separate intervention programmes:

      • Youth empowerment programme obesity study (15-24 year olds)
      • Young adults prediabetes study (25-45 year olds)

Both programmes build the knowledge, understanding and advocacy skills of youth leaders to empower behavioural change in their communities, aimed at reducing the prevalence of risk factors for prediabetes.


This project was funded by:

The Ministry of Health, Health Research Council of New Zealand, and Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, as part of the Long-Term Conditions Partnership.


Outcomes and Impact

Putanga | Outcome

The youth empowerment programmes were well received and were scored highly by the 29 youth who completed module evaluations.

Adult participants in the co-designed health interventions showed an overall 2.4% decrease in body weight over 8 weeks. There was also a decrease in waist circumference (1.6%) and an increase in the average number of daily steps taken.

There was a high retention of intervention participants (26 of 32 adult participants (or 81%) completed the intervention), which was attributed to the youth and community facilitators’ close connections with participants.

Evaluations showed the importance of trust and reciprocity in community partnerships, the capacity and capability of youth advocacy, and the value of a community-centred and culturally-relevant approach to health interventions.

Te Ara Kei Mua | Next Steps

Further research will build on these findings to develop family-centred interventions for the prevention of type 2 diabetes, using a co-design approach that enables community representatives to take a leadership or equal partnership role in the research.


Knowledge Exchange

Pasifika Prediabetes Youth Empowerment Programme

Research Findings Brief

This project developed a collaborative partnership between researchers and two Pasifika communities to empower youth to co-design, deliver and evaluate a health intervention.

The study’s focus on the potential of youth advocacy, and using a community-centered approach, successfully improved factors that predispose people to developing type 2 diabetes.

Project Team

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