Lifestyle and environmental changes are increasingly bringing childhood obesity to Indian children.
A study done in Delhi using BMI (Body Mass Index) criteria among affluent adolescent children (aged 10 - 16) found 25% overweight and 7% obese. There was slightly more obesity among boys vs girls1. So almost a third of the adolescent children in the study were overweight or obese.
A study in Ludhiana among affluent adolescent children found 13% overweight and 3% obese2.
A study in Pune among affluent boys found 20% overweight and 6% obese3.
The trend also seems to start early in life. A study done in Mangalore (which is a far less urban city than the major metros) with children aged 2 - 5 years, showed 5% were overweight and 1% were obese4.
In June 2008, Indian Pediatrics (www.indianpediatrics.net), the journal of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics featured a number of articles, including a letter from the President of the IAP5, focusing on childhood obesity in India.
Overweight and obesity are linked to various health conditions including heart diseases, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes. In addition, it has psychological effects on the child's self esteem, leading to depression especially if compounded by teasing/cruelty from peers.
There are number of factors contributing to this obesity:
The vast reduction in urban play areas, and increase in traffic even on minor roads has also greatly reduced the spaces that children can play in.
Above all, stay involved with your child and his or her activities. Play with them, eat with them, and teach them. An involved parent who fosters healthy habits, bestows the invaluable gift of healthy living on their children.
1. Umesh Kapil, Preeti Singh, Priyali Pathak, Sada Nand Dwivedi, Sanjiv Bhasin "Prevalence of Obesity Amongst Affluent Adolescent School Children in Delhi" Indian Pediatrics 2002; 39:449-452
2. Khadilkar VV, Khadilkar AV "Prevalence of obesity in affluent school boys in Pune", Indian Pediatrics 2004; 41: 857-858
3. T Aggarwal, RC Bhatia, D Singh, and Praveen C Sobti "Prevalence of Obesity and Overweight in Affluent Adolescents from Ludhiana, Punjab" Indian Pediatrics 2008; 45:500-502
4. HN Harsha Kumar , Padma Mohanan, Shashidhar Kotian, BS Sajjan , and S Ganesh Kumar "Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Pre-school Children in Semi Urban South India", Indian Pediatrics 2008; 45: 497-499
5. Agarwal RK, President's Page "Childhood Obesity: Emerging Challenge", Indian Pediatrics 2008; 45:443-444
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