With 21% of city kids overweight, obesity seems to be knocking on our doors too early

Dec 17,2018

Obesity a growing concern among city kids, warn experts

An annual health check done recently, across 83,000 school students, revealed that 21% of the city’s school-going children are either overweight or obese, thus throwing light on childhood obesity. Not just this, another study, The Pediatric Epidemiology, and Child Health (PEACH) study was conducted by the Division of Nutrition, St John’s Research Institute, to examine obesity and weight issues among children from urban schools in Bengaluru, from 2011 to 2016, found that the combined prevalence of overweight/obesity was 19.2% in girls and 16.7% in boys. “The PEACH study revealed that the waist circumference of our urban school children seem to be higher than those of the same age in western populations,” says Rebecca Kuriyan Raj, Professor at St John’s Medical College and St John’s Research Institute who was also the principal investigator of this study.

REASONS A PLENTY
“It has been observed that many overweight students have lengthy tuition time, which means no time for any outdoor activity. Also, screen time for the school students ran up to more than two hours. So, the child is hardly getting up and walking.”

“Add to that the amount of junk food that is consumed by children. When the intake is more and the output is minimal, the positive energy balance of the body gets affected,” says Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Clinical Dietician, HOD, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at a city hospital, who also adds that with the lack of open spaces, many times, children are not left with much of an option but to just sit back at home and play video games or watch TV or spend time on their gadgets. On an average, Priyanka says, she has at least six children walking in everyday with issues related to obesity.

BREAK THE VICIOUS CYCLE OF SUGAR
“Sugar works like cocaine on your body and, therefore, kicks off a vicious cycle. Once you have a doughnut or a cupcake or an aerated drink, there’s a spike of sugar in your blood. And once that spike goes low, your body starts wanting more. Hence, it becomes crucial for parents to ensure that their children avoid them. Instead, they should have fresh home-cooked meals, fruits or nuts, and fluids. Try not to pack bread and jam in their lunch boxes,” she advises.

SCHOOLS SHOULD BE AGENTS OF CHANGE AND PARENTS ROLE MODELS
“Parents need to be role models and promote healthy eating, increased physical activity and decrease sedentary time,” says Rebecca. “Many times, parents themselves tend to body shame their children or blame child for being overweight, and complain about spending too much time on gadgets instead of playing outside. It makes sense for parents to first take a look at the kind of example they are setting for their child. Parents must also be more proactive and find activities that will keep their child engaged in a better way,” advises Priyanka. “Yes, there are times when kids need to start focusing on studying for longer hours. That said, they must ensure they get the required number of hours of sleep. They need at least 8-10 hours of sleep to get their hormone balances in place,” she says.

WHAT TO DO… FOLLOW THE 8,5,3,2,1,0 FORMULA
It is known that the riskiest fat is that which is settles in the abdomen area, which is what is called the dreaded paunch. “Potential factors that determine waist circumference of a child is decreased sleep, increased snacking, increased watching of TV and to some extent, genes,” says Rebecca. Experts suggest the following the 8, 5, 3, 2, 1 formula for better health. “This means, eight hours of sleep, five servings of fruits and vegetables, three litres of unsweetened beverage or fluid. Then, two hours or less screen time. And lastly one hour of compulsory outdoor exercise,” sums up Priyanka.

With 21% of city kids overweight, obesity seems to be knocking on our doors too early

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