Fa'asisila Savila

Research Officer - Pacific Island Families Study
Research Field Co-ordinator - Centre for Pacific Health and Development

Fa'asisila Savila

Fa’asisila Savila is of Ngāpuhi and Samoan descent. He has enjoyed being a researcher over a period of 15 years.

Fa’asisila graduated from the University of Auckland in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts. After graduating, he worked at the university as a research assistant in various research roles for the Department of Community Health.

During this time, Fa’asisila completed a Master in Public Health (2007) looking at the risk factors of obesity in Pacific Island adolescents.

In 2009, Fa’asisila joined the team at the Pacific Island Families (PIF) Study as a child assessor. He is now a Research Officer for the study.

Research to make a difference

Fa’asisila is currently undertaking a PhD looking at the environmental contributions to food and growth for Pacific children living in New Zealand.

Obesity, says Fa’asisila, can lead to many major health complications which is something that seems so removed from people until you are in the hospital yourself, or visiting someone you love.

Through his studies, Fa’asisila hopes to understand the differences in environment and diets of Pacific children living with obesity, to those who are at the other end of the scale.

The end result for Fa’asisila would be to inform policy makers to help improve the environment and diet of Pacific children.

He is using the longitudinal data from the PIF study, which broadens his research hugely, as he can follow children’s growth from birth and correlate it to the different environments and diets. He is trying to reframe obesity into something that is not static, but something modifiable through growth.

“Obesity is a real issue for Pacific children and this important research is something that needs to be done.”