Childhood obesity a new pandemic in India especially among Delhi kids

“About 10% of children in the 10 to 18 age group are diabetic”

New Delhi, August 1, 2018:

According to a recent survey, about 30% of children attending private schools in Delhi are obese and many of them suffer from pre-diabetic and hypertensive conditions. This alarming rise in obesity make prevention and management an urgent need of the hour. About 10% of the newly diagnosed diabetes patients are in the 10 to 18 age group.

Many school canteens in the city serve unhealthy food such as deep-fried snacks and high-sugar beverages. Most of them are also unaware of their students’ eating habits. What further complicates the situation is the presence of additional risk factors such as family history of the condition, and an unhealthy lifestyle.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Childhood obesity is a reality today with two of the biggest contributing factors being imbalanced diet and sedentary lifestyle. More than 30% people of the society including children have potbelly abdominal obesity. Most children eat out at least once or twice a week and have an electronic device at hand while eating. While there is awareness among parents on the situation, not much is being done to counter the problem. Elders should model the behavior they want children to follow and therefore, the changes begin with them. A healthy childhood is the only foundation for a healthy life ahead.”

India has the second highest number of obese children in the world after China. Normal weight obesity is the new epidemic of the society. A person could be obese even if his/her body weight was within the normal range. An extra inch of fat around the abdomen increases the chances of heart disease by 1.5 times.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President of CMAAO, said, “Along the lines of the Medicines with red line campaign and pictorial health warnings on tobacco products, the Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) suggests that packages of all food products that contain high levels of sugar, calories, salt and saturated fats should carry a ‘red dot’ or a ‘red arrow pointing upwards’ on the food label, which carries the nutritional content of that particular food product as a symbol warning the consumer that the food product contains unhealthy amounts of fats, sugar and salt. Chile introduced a new food labeling system in 2016 to tackle obesity.”

Some tips from HFCI

  • Encourage healthy eating habits right at the onset.
  • Try making favorite dishes healthier. Few changes can make even snacks healthier.
  • Avoid tempting children with calorie-rich food. It is okay to treat them but in moderation and by limiting high-fat and high-sugar or salty snacks.
  • Make kids understand the importance of being physically active.
  • Lead by example. Indulge in at least 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity every day.
  • Reduce sedentary time. While reading is a good option, too much of screen time is not.
  • Replace screen time with the outdoors and fun activities to keep children engaged.

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