Are We Becoming an ‘Obese’ Nation?
When it comes to children, we think fat is cute but fail to realise that it can be very dangerous for the child. 
When it comes to children, we think fat is cute but fail to realise that it can be very dangerous for the child. (Photo: iStockphoto)

Are We Becoming an ‘Obese’ Nation?

We are in the midst of a dual epidemic – some experts call it ‘diabesity’.

According to a study released on 12 June, India has the second highest number of obese children in the world after China. The alarming study has found that 14.4 million kids in the country have excess weight.

The World Health Organisation had released a two-year long research earlier on the alarming levels of childhood obesity worldwide and found that nearly one-fourth of children and adolescents in India are obese.

Though the overall obesity rate in India is still low – less than 5 per cent – the World Health Organisation suggests it is rising at the fastest pace in developing countries.

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It’s not just the WHO.

Recent research shows that Indian children are literally eating themselves to an early death.

A three-year long pan-India study by Fortis Hospital’s SRL Laboratories on 17,000 school going children, found that 66 per cent of children in India have abnormally high blood sugar levels causing the cases of type-2 diabetes to spike ten times.

With such serious health issues at such an early stage, most of these children could potentially face irreversible damage to growth, heart, kidney and other vital organs.

This is happening primarily because we are feeding our kids the food they shouldn’t be touching and encouraging them to be more sedentary. The two factors combined are a ticking time bomb.

Way Beyond Weight!

Children who are severely obese are twice as likely to have some of the risk factors for heart disease and diabetes as the mildly obese.
Children who are severely obese are twice as likely to have some of the risk factors for heart disease and diabetes as the mildly obese.
(Photo: iStockphoto)
Overweight and obese children are at higher risk of chronic diseases during childhood and adulthood, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, hepatic steatosis, several cancers and not to forget, social discrimination.

Cardiovascular conditions associated with obesity, such as high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, are increasingly being diagnosed in children, as is type 2 diabetes.

Rapid urbanisation, change in eating habits and shifting more focus to indoor activities have resulted in dramatic lifestyle changes, leading to chronic condition associated with abnormally high levels of sugar in children.
Leena Chatterjee, Director, Fortis SRL Labs and SRL Strategic Initiatives

A fourth of all children entering middle school are obese in urban Indian cities. Till five years ago, that number was less than half.

If we don’t change what we do, we are going to become a society of overweight and obese people. I am seeing hypertension and diabetes in teenagers these days. This was unheard of until a decade back.
Dr Gautam Bhansali, Physician

Doctors say that children often associate hunger with mood swings. If they are feeling low, they eat an ice cream or bite into a chocolate. It is the parents’ duty to talk to their children about their feelings, they should teach them that negative feelings cannot b overcome by eating high-calorie foods.

Also Read : Obesity May Increase Risk of Asthma in Children, Says a Study

How Obesity Harms a Child’s Body?

Believe it or not, the earliest signs of obesity can begin to show by age 2. Childhood is the best possible time to encourage healthy habits that kids can practice throughout their lives.
Believe it or not, the earliest signs of obesity can begin to show by age 2. Childhood is the best possible time to encourage healthy habits that kids can practice throughout their lives.
(Photo: iStockphoto)
It’s not just type 2 diabetes, illnesses like asthma, high cholesterol, bone density loss and hypertension are on the rise among adolescents.

In fact, Dr Bhansali added that in the past two days, he has put a couple of teenagers on the same chronic illness medication as their parents.

Scientists in the US conducted imaging scans on obese eight-year-olds and the results leave little room for doubt. Thickened heart muscles and increased muscle mass – a sign of strain on the heart muscle – can lead to stroke, abnormal heart rhythm, heart failure and sudden death.

Experts say that you can’t outrun a bad diet only by regular exercise. While the latter cuts down the risk of diseases – like dementia, some cancers and type 2 diabetes – it doesn’t cause weight loss, unless teamed with a strict diet.

This should be a clear message to parents of the three out of ten school going kids in urban Indian cities who are clinically obese. Unless your child eats a balanced, calorie-controlled diet, physical activities alone won’t lower the risk.

According to the World Health Organisation, in 2012, an estimated 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and more than 80 per cent of diabetes deaths occurred in developing countries like India.

Don’t let your child become a part of this statistic. Take control.

Also Read : Is Your Kid Getting Enough Zzzs? Lack of Sleep Linked to Obesity

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