Young India is growing obese at an alarming rate. Today, India has the second highest number of over weight and obese children and adolescents and ranks only behind China in this. In 2010 16% of children aged 13 to 18 were considered obese, in 2016 the number more than doubled to 29%. This sort of a spike in the number of overweight children is a huge cause of worry. The condition is so worrisome that the International Diabetes Foundation anticipates India to have almost 123 million cases of diabetes by 2040.
Here are some very pertinent reasons as to why more and more children in India are growing obese:
Unhealthy Diet Patterns
The average purchasing power of the Indian citizen has risen greatly over the last few decades. This has increased their access to energy and calorie rich food items. Over and above this, the increased prevalence of television in day to day lives has exposed children to targeted advertising which has also altered their tastes greatly. Even school cafeterias are selling processed food and other unhealthy items. The lack of a balanced diet which takes into consideration what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat has been one of the major factors in the booming obesity rates in our country.
Burden of Competition
Children today are more burdened with expectations than, possibly, at any other time in history. From academics to body image, the child has to face constant scrutiny, not only from the family but also peers. Parents too find their identity in how well their children perform thereby adding to the child’s developing sense of self. Often children resort to eating as a way to make themselves feel better and cope with their low sense of self. The increased academic competition has led to many children simply eliminating sports from their daily routine. This has worked against them in many ways, most importantly, it has led to supporting this epidemic of obesity.
Lack of Physical Activity
There has been a marked shift in how the young generation partakes of its entertainment. From outdoor sports to video games, the journey has been fraught. Children today do not have to look too far for fun. Be it television or video games, there are little to no avenues for a child to indulge in sports. The growing paucity of sports academies and playgrounds is also a problem which hinders a child from going out and playing the sport they love. Even something as simple as riding a bicycle has become a rare activity among kids today. This lack of physical activity is one of the biggest causes of obesity, especially when coupled with the increased dependency on calorie rich foods.
Indulgence by Parents
Parents always believe in giving their child the best of what they can afford. This, however, may not be the wisest course of action when it comes to the child’s health. Giving a child all that he or she wants is not necessarily the best parenting method. As parents, it behooves one to think long-term and understand what would be best for the child going forward. From establishing healthy habits to developing an affinity for physical activity. There are a number of ways in which an indulgent parent can also raise a healthy child.
One of the biggest contributors to the sedentary lifestyle of children today is technology. From smartphones to computers to the television, technology has almost taken over a child’s world. Be it studies or entertainment, you will find the child sitting in front of the computer. This has become prevalent to such an extent that many children forego physical activity because of it. The amount of time spent by the child with a gadget has led to significantly lower hours of sleep and poorer quality of sleep. Lack of sleep is another mail cause of weight gain in children. Limiting a child’s access and use of technology is one of the most important things if you believe it is hampering their health.
All of these reasons are based on habits practiced by the family and can be reversed and transformed into healthy habits which will help the child lose weight and become a healthier and surer version of themselves.