Freedom from Childhood Obesity
The last decade has witnessed a rapid escalation in childhood obesity, globally. The urban child has grown heavier and the word "super-sizing" is not an exaggeration anymore. Certainly not when according to recent reports, 1 in 4 children in the national capital is obese. The incidence of overweight urban children in India exceeds the global average of 24%, which is indeed disturbing and surprising, considering the fact we are still considered a "nation in transition" and not a fully developed one. Where are we going wrong and do we even realize the seriousness of what is happening?
The chief cause is an ‘obesogenic’ environment that favours poor food choices coupled with passive entertainment and sedentary living. Nutrition is important to people of all ages, but it is particularly important for the well-being of children and adolescents. Early intervention and developing healthy eating habits can prevent kids from becoming overweight. Well-nourished children and adolescents are more likely to be better prepared to learn, be active, and maintain their health as adults.
Overweight and obesity are notoriously difficult to correct once they set in. There is an established risk of overweight during childhood persisting into adolescence and adulthood. The risk of obesity in childhood may lead to a person developing chronic diseases like coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, shorter life expectancy, psychological problems, low self-esteem, depression, to others like hormonal imbalances, infertility, skin and hair problems, osteoporosis, and respiratory disorders. More than 60% of overweight children have at-least one additional risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as raised blood pressure, increased blood cholesterol levels (hyperlipidaemia), or increased insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia), and more than 20% have two or more risk factors.The real concern is that chronic diseases are occurring more widely and earlier in life, in addition to the fact that they tend to continue throughout life.
It’s clear now; with years of research that being overweight or obese is not just about being out of shape or superficially unattractive. It comes with a series of health problems that can be avoided. Young people, especially feel conscious of their tyres and bulges around the waist. It hurts to be noticedfor one"s hefty size and it is a challenge to grow up with low self-esteem and confidence. All that is needed is an assertion and a promise by families on the whole to adopt simple lifestyle measures to fight obesity. They are the most powerful weapons.
(With inputs from Ms.Ishi Khosla, an eminent Clinical Nutritionist)