Childhood Obesity: Junk versus healthy, choose wisely - Times of India


Childhood obesity is the new emerging epidemic in India. In last 15 years the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased almost four times (4 to 15%).India has the second highest number of obese children in the world, with 14.4 million reported cases. According to the recent statistics around 5-8.8% of school children are obese in India.
In addition to obesity a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrient intakes, eating disorders have increased the risk of early disease onset in children which were usually seen in adults.

Obese children are at increased risk of hypertension, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol and triglycerides, Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, gallbladder disease, respiratory problems, emotional disturbances, and some cancers. Two in three obese children will remain obese as adults and at risk for adult lifestyle diseases like diabetes,coronary heart disease etc.

Parental education and awareness is very important in tackling this epidemic of childhood obesity.

1 Children and parents are spending a lot of time on electronic media be it phone, tablet or television leading to physical inactivity. Be a positive role model for your child. You should inculcate 60 min of physical activity in yours and yours child schedule every day.

2. Set limits to food and beverage intake ,do not give in to the demands of a picky eater otherwise they are unlikely to broaden his or her “food horizons” as long as he knows mom or dad is going to give in and provide that special food.

3. The children ages 7-10 should be getting 2 servings from the milk group, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 5-6 servings of grains, and 2 servings from the meat/bean group daily. Limit sweets.Offer often, but don’t force.

4. Avoid consumption of high fat and salted snacks and soda’s. Fast foods should be restricted to occasions or weekends.Encourage consumption of fresh, home-cooked foods. Healthy snack at home should be within easy reach for children e.gMakhanas, dry fruits, fruits, murmuras, etc

5. Avoid force feeding infants and toddlers, or feeding them in front of a screen which makes them put on weight as they are unaware of their satiety signals, infact promote family and gadget free meal times which increases the bonding within the family as well.

6.Take the kids out for shopping veggies and fruits. Involve them in cooking some quick healthy snacks or salads. They should also be taught about reading food labels and the content.

It’s important to live the habits and lifestyle you want your child to practice, as children learn. Eat well and exercise. Teach your children how to enjoy a healthy diet and lifestyle.

The article has been authored by Dr. Sufla Saxena ,Senior Consultant, Paediatric Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist,HCMCT Manipal Hospitals, Delhi for National Nutrition Week, 2020.



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