Why Are Polynesians So Big? [All you Need To Know About The Polynesians]

Why are Polynesians so big?

The Polynesians are a group of people who share a common ethnicity and language and are native to the islands in the Polynesian Triangle, a region of Oceania in the Pacific Ocean.

Their origins can be traced back to Island Southeast Asia in Taiwan, and they are known for their reputation as skilled navigators and adventurers, which has led them to settle in various parts of the world, including New Zealand, the United States, and France.

Despite being found worldwide, Polynesians also have independent states such as Samoa, Niue, Cook Island, Tonga, and Tuvalu. The Polynesian population is estimated to be around two million worldwide.

One attribute that often raises curiosity about the Polynesians is the body size of most of them, as many tend to be obese, particularly those aged fifteen and above.

Why Are Polynesians So Big?

The body size of Polynesians is a complex issue that has been attributed to various factors, including genetics, environment, culture, and lifestyle.

Some studies suggest that Polynesians may have a genetic predisposition to obesity due to their ancestors’ survival strategies in the Pacific Islands, where periods of feast and famine were common.

During times of abundance, those who could store more energy in the form of fat were more likely to survive during times of scarcity. As a result, the genetic makeup of Polynesians may have evolved to store more fat, leading to a higher risk of obesity.

Additionally, changes in lifestyle and diet due to colonization and modernization have also contributed to the high rates of obesity among Polynesians.

The shift from traditional, physically demanding lifestyles to more sedentary ones, combined with the adoption of Western-style diets that are high in fat and sugar, has led to a higher risk of obesity and related health issues.

Cultural factors may also play a role, as food is often an important part of Polynesian culture and social events. Large feasts and sharing meals with others are common, which may lead to overeating and a higher calorie intake.

Overall, the reasons for the high rates of obesity among Polynesians are complex and multifactorial, and further research is needed to fully understand the issue.

Reasons Why Polynesians Are Big

Reasons why Polynesians are big?

Although not as well-known as some other ethnic groups, the Polynesians have garnered significant interest due to their body size. However, Polynesia has also produced many notable talents across various fields.

Several factors can be considered in trying to explain the common trait of body size among the Polynesians:

1. Origin and Migration

The reasons behind the larger body size of Polynesians are multifactorial and complex. However, some possible explanations can be traced back to their origins and migration patterns.

The Polynesians are believed to have originated from the Island Southeast Asia in Taiwan, and they subsequently migrated across the Pacific Islands over thousands of years.

During their migration, the Polynesians had to navigate long distances on the ocean, which required physical strength and endurance. Those who could store more energy in the form of fat were more likely to survive and have offspring, passing down genes that predisposed them to a larger body size.

The Polynesian migration patterns also contributed to their larger body size. As they traveled from island to island, they encountered new environments and food sources, and their bodies adapted to survive in these different conditions.

For example, the Polynesians relied heavily on starchy root vegetables such as taro and sweet potato, which provided a high-calorie intake that helped them to survive in times of scarcity.

In addition to genetics and diet, other factors may also contribute to the larger body size of Polynesians, including a more sedentary lifestyle, cultural norms surrounding food and eating, and the effects of modernization and colonization.

However, it is important to note that body size varies among individuals within the Polynesian population and should not be used as a blanket stereotype.

2. Their Culture

The Polynesians possess a distinctive culture that shapes their social behavior and norms, revealing fascinating insights into their way of life. Their culture encompasses a wide range of beliefs, laws, customs, and habits that are intricately linked to their body size.

Numerous practices can be attributed to the larger body size of Polynesians. Here are some examples of such practices:

3. Exploration

The Polynesians have a rich tradition of exploration that has been passed down through generations. They have developed advanced seafaring skills and perfected the art of boat crafting.

Navigating the vast ocean requires considerable physical strength, and the Polynesians were well-equipped for the task. Additionally, crafting a seaworthy canoe from a single log of wood was a challenging task that demanded significant physical exertion and dexterity.

Without strong hands and skilled craftsmanship, the Polynesians could not have built the boats that allowed them to travel great distances and settle new lands.

4. Diet 

One of the significant factors contributing to the larger body size of Polynesians is their traditional diet. The Polynesian diet is rich in high-calorie, starchy, and fatty foods, including taro, breadfruit, coconut, and fatty cuts of meat such as pork.

Moreover, Polynesian cuisine often includes large portions and communal eating, where food is shared amongst family and friends. The act of eating together is deeply ingrained in Polynesian culture, and it is considered a sign of hospitality and generosity to offer abundant amounts of food.

Historically, Polynesians were highly skilled fishermen and relied heavily on fish and other seafood for their diet. However, with the introduction of modern convenience foods, there has been a shift towards highly processed, calorie-dense foods that contribute to weight gain and obesity.

Overall, the Polynesian diet and cultural norms around eating have contributed significantly to their larger body size.

5. Warfare

Like many traditional communities, warfare was a common practice among the Polynesians. Specifically, in Tonga and Samoa, warriors were recognized and celebrated. A significant part of this recognition was through the use of tattoos, which played an essential role in both religious rituals and warfare.

The tattoos, which covered the lower body from the waist to below the knee, indicated the warrior’s rank, status, and accomplishments in battle. The intricate designs and patterns of these tattoos also served as a symbol of the warrior’s strength and bravery.

Given the importance of warfare and the need for physical strength and prowess in battle, it is reasonable to assume that many of these Polynesian warriors were large and physically formidable.

This cultural emphasis on strength and physical ability may have contributed to the larger body size observed among Polynesians today.

6. Wrestling 

Another cultural practice among Polynesians that could potentially explain their larger body size is wrestling, which has a long and storied history in Polynesian culture.

Wrestling was traditionally used as a way to settle disputes and maintain order within Polynesian communities. It was also seen as a way to demonstrate physical strength and prowess, and wrestlers were often held in high regard within their communities.

The training and preparation required for wrestling often involved intense physical activity and a high-calorie diet, which may have contributed to the larger body size observed among Polynesians.

Additionally, successful wrestlers often enjoyed a higher social status and were seen as desirable marriage partners, which may have further perpetuated the trend of larger body size within Polynesian communities over time.

Today, wrestling remains an important part of Polynesian culture, with many Polynesian wrestlers achieving success at the national and international level. This continued emphasis on physical strength and ability may contribute to the larger body size observed among Polynesians today.

7. Their Genetics

Genetics is the study of genes, heredity, and genetic variation. In understanding trait inheritance, it is important to consider the Polynesians’ link to their ancestry, which confirms that their body size is hereditary.

Patterns of trait inheritance demonstrate how different traits are passed down from parents to their children, while genetic processes work in conjunction with environmental and experiential factors to influence an individual’s development and behavior.

Research into genetics suggests that the Polynesians’ enormous body size may be attributed to trait inheritance, with environmental factors playing a significant role. Their ancestry is also associated with genes that promote large body size, which may be passed down to their offspring.

8. Obesity

The measurement of body size is done through the calculation of body mass index (BMI). Polynesians and the associated states rank among the top seven heaviest countries in the world based on their BMI.

This indicates their significant size. Additionally, over seventy percent of individuals aged fifteen and above are obese, contributing to high rates of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

The emergence of obesity in the region is attributed to genetic factors. Some people have genes that make it challenging for them to lose weight. The environment also plays a role in this condition, including eating habits and activity levels.

Many argue that the BMI for Polynesians should be adjusted due to their larger bones and muscle mass. However, the high incidence of type 2 diabetes remains a concern in the region.

In the past, Polynesians consumed traditional foods such as meat and fruits. Today, they have a higher intake of processed foods, including canned meat and sugary products. This shift is partly attributed to the increase in tourism and the preference of tourists for such foods.


The Polynesians are renowned for their remarkable physical stature and strength, which is often attributed to their seafaring and voyaging history, indicating a hereditary trait. However, their current size may also be due to factors such as obesity caused by changes in the environment, eating habits, and genetic variation.

Despite the high levels of obesity in the Polynesian population, their natural size and strength can still be used to their advantage. Many Polynesian celebrities have leveraged their physique in sports and entertainment, serving as role models for their community.