India’s growing status as an economic superpower has brought with it a range of maladies that have caught the populace unawares. The most terrifying of the lot is the increasing obesity rates among children and adolescents today. What starts off as a few extra kilos on a child can very well morph into more dangerous adult diseases like high cholesterol, hypertension as well as cardio vascular issues.
Obesity among children is a worldwide problem. In fact, between 1985 and 1995 the number of overweight 7-15 year olds has doubled. The overall numbers of obese children has found itself tripling over this period. Even developed countries like the United States, United Kingdom and Australia find themselves battling this problem.
India Battles the Bulge
Studies have found that over 66% of children in India have abnormal sugar levels. The study conducted by Fortis SRL Labs and SRL Strategic Initiatives found some very disturbing facts. Conducted between 2012 and 2014 and having screened 17,000 children, the study found that over 51% male children had abnormal HbAlc, an indicator of diabetic control. Western India was the worst hit with over 68% children affected, northern India was a close second with almost 65% children with abnormal levels, eastern India clocked in at over 61% while southern India was relatively healthier with almost 55%. These are all relative though. Having a sizable population with high sugar levels is dangerous.
Excess body weight limits the human body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin. This is one of the leading causes of type-2 diabetes among children and teens. Research indicates that growing spending parity has resulted in increased spending on sugar and fat infused foods among urban families. This when coupled with the largely sedentary lifestyle and entertainment choices of children today, this makes for a dangerous combination.
Historically, obesity was rare enough among children in India that a slight plumpness among babies was considered a sign of affluence. Today, however, with changing lifestyles and dietary patterns, plumpness has transcended into obesity.
14.4 Million Obese Children in India
The figures, 14.4 million, puts India as the country with the second highest obesity rates among children in the world. China, which holds the first position, has already begun work to tackle this problem. Closer to home, in India, we are still grappling with perceptions and the basic understanding of a healthy lifestyle. The New England Journal of Medicine that conducted the survey stated that increasing obesity rates among children is nothing short of a health crisis and should be treated as such.
Excess weight among children can be a precursor to a host of diseases and physical ailments. This is over and above the many psychological issues that accompany obesity. Tackling the issue of weight can be difficult, especially among growing children. The key here is to establish healthy habits right at the outset to ensure that the children grow up to be strong and totally in control of their own health.
From establishing a healthy eating routine with a focus on getting nutrition into the child as opposed to calories, to including sports and other physical activities as a part of daily routine, there are a number of ways that excess body weight can be tackled. It takes for the family to help as a unit in transforming their habits and making the child healthy again.