With a stern expression crossing her face, 82-year-old Papiloa Bloomfield Foliaki almost leaps from her seat to show us something she says will help us understand.
She comes back into the sitting room of her small hotel in Nuku A'Lofa, Tonga's capital, brandishing a large model of an ancient wooden boat.
"We Tongans rowed here, across thousands and thousands of miles of sea, in boats like these. Then we flipped them over and used the old boats as houses."
She frowns. "But, nobody wants Tongan houses any more, because something Western, something modern, people think is better, people associated Tongan style of homes with poverty.
"Just like with our food."
The traditional Tongan diet is fish, root vegetables and coconuts, as you might expect for a palm-fringed island in the middle of the Pacific.
But at some point in the middle of the 20th Century, offcuts of meat began arriving in the Pacific islands - including turkey tails from the US and mutton flaps from New Zealand.
They were cheap and became hugely popular.
"People think something imported is superior," says Foliaki, a former nurse, activist and politician, who now works in the hotel business, despite being one of few Tongans over the age of 80.
"And you have a situation where fishermen spear their fish - sell it - and go and buy mutton flaps. People don't have the education to know what is bad for their health."
What are mutton flaps?
- The low-quality end of a sheep's rib - connected to the high-quality ribs and spare ribs - also known as breast
- Every 100g includes approximately 40g fat (half of it saturated fat) and contains 420 calories
- Flaps make up 9-12% of a sheep's carcass by weight, but only 3-5 % by value
- In the Pacific, they are sometimes the only cut of the animal found on sale
- New Zealand and Australia sell large quantities of mutton flaps to China, Mexico and African countries
- In Europe they are used in doner kebabs
In 1973, 7% of the population were suffering from non-communicable disease - a phrase that has come to be used as synonymous with diabetes in Tonga. By 2004 the figure was 18%. It is now 34% according to the Tongan Health Ministry, though some think the figure could be as high as 40%.
"There's this whole generation in Tonga that was brought up on mutton flaps," says Sunia Soakai, a health planning officer for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
"Mutton flaps are the discarded parts of the lamb that are not fit for consumption in New Zealand. They were able to dump this stuff on the Pacific countries."
Tongan fishermen still catch fish by spear, mostly at night, returning well before dawn.
Customers who want the best of the catch come down to meet them off the boat. Others can turn up at the little fish market in the port's car park later in the morning. Source: BBC World News