A survey conducted recently in a metro city by a private health service provider among school children has given an alarming result that some percentage of school children are found to be obese. The survey found that 10% of children between three and 16 years were obese. It also found that another 13.8% were at risk of contracting lifestyle diseases in adulthood.
According to guidelines by National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, children and adolescents should have staple foods like cereals and millets three to six times a day. Vegetables, which are an essential source of vitamins and minerals, should be consumed two to five times a day; milk and milk products that come packed with protein, calcium and other essential micro nutrients two to three times a day; and pulses and other protein-rich foods like eggs, fish and meat two to three times a day. Children should consume fruits one to two times a day.
Doctors warn that childhood obesity, if unchecked, can lead to major diseases. Childhood obesity is also a forerunner of metabolic syndrome, poor physical health, respiratory problems and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like hypertension and glucose intolerance (type-II diabetes). This is a matter of serious concern as NCDs typically occur later in life,” Sedentary lifestyles coupled with consumption of junk food and hours spent in front of mobile phones, laptops and television — all have a role in rising obesity among children, which is fast becoming a health concern in metro cities.
A wholesome and balanced diet comprising minimally processed food is a must. Even the midday meals provided to school children should comprise a balanced diet with adequate proteins, minerals and vitamins.
In the same survey, 28.6% school children were found to have dental caries (cavities) while 15.1% had newly detected / worsening vision problems. In addition, more than 200 children had previously undetected cardiac murmurs, and 70 had previously undetected hearing defects, the study revealed.