Rising Obesity Among Children: Need For Urgent Attention

Childhood obesity is becoming a serious concern for parents. Statistics reveal that 6-8 per cent of school-going children in India are in clutch of obesity. Certain lifestyle changes and preventions can restrain obesity among children.

The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the people of India both directly and indirectly. With the new variants coming in, the disease has already infected many while others live in fear of getting infected.

As the second wave of the epidemic targets children aged below 18, a new report has shown that children in India are overweight and adopt an unhealthy lifestyle. 

As per the survey conducted in Delhi, above 51 per cent of children have an unhealthy BMI, which implies that one in two children is folllowing an unhealthy lifestyle. The report states that obese children have a higher risk of being infected with Coronavirus.

It is also significant to mark that obesity during childhood can also result in grave health issues in the future. It's a matter of concern that obesity among children is on the rise in India - home to the second-largest number of obese children accross the world.

Dr Amit Vij, Consultant - Paediatric Critical Care, Sharda Hospital, Greater Noida, explains, "The current scenario is leading to little physical exertion and too much calorie intake whereas most of the time spent by children is indoor and COVID did exacerbate that. Even the choice of food has been unhealthy most of the time, and is actually a very significant cause of obesity. Genetic predisposition and stress in family, personal or otherwise are the other risk factors."

Ways to overcome obesity in children

Figures reveal that 6-8 per cent of school-going children in India are affected from obesity. There are many reasons for obesity among kids, including lifestyle, hormones and genetics.

Various other factors raise the risk of kids becoming obese. These can be diet, heredity, prescription drugs, lack of exercise, socioeconomic status, low nutrition and overeating at home. The COVID-19 crisis has further made children's lifestyles worse.

Now, children are at a stronger risk of high cholesterol, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke and joint pain. Not engaging in physical activity and sitting in front of digital screens for various hours can lead to cancer.

In addition to these health issues, obese children can suffer from mental trauma as there is probability of being ridiculed and harassed for their over weight. This may also result in low self-confidence and thus increases the risk of anxiety and depression.

Dr Swati Singh, Delhi Gynae Clinic, asserts, "Childhood obesity mainly associated with unhealthy eating and low levels of physical activity. Genetic factors and in rare cases medical condition due to hormonal problem also plays a role.

It's particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start children on the path to health problems that adult have like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Best strategy to reduce childhood obesity is to improve eating healthy food and exercise habits of your entire family."

What can be done

Parents can adopt 'prevention is better than cure' methodology to fight with the issue. Preventing obesity at a young age is far better than battling with its consequences later.

Dr N Kavitha Bhat, Senior Consultant - Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, Aster RV Hospital, JP Nagar, Bengaluru, suggests, "The only way to overcome the looming threat of a childhood obesity epidemic is that we need to invest more time in ensuring children have healthy and tasty diet plans prepared for them, that children are taught more about nutrition and are aware of what they consume and are encouraged to participate in more physical activities over their digital devices."

Some of the steps that can help avoid obesity among children:

- Consume more fruits and vegetables.

- Set examples for the children.

- Improve sleeping patterns.

- Reward children, but with anything other than food.

- Encourage children develop healthy eating habits.

It is your responsibility as a parent to navigate your child through this process. You cannot expect them to change their habits if you don't make changes in your lifestyle first. Parents are role models for kids and as such, they need to encourage their kids to experience the advantages of a healthy food and lifestyle. Tell them how to make nutritious choices and adopt a healthy lifestyle.


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