India ranks second in the obese children category. As per a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 14.4 million cases of obese children have been reported in India. Even though obesity in children has been lower than adults, childhood obesity is steadily increasing at an alarming rate. In 2015, over 2 billion people were recorded to be overweight. Out of these cases, more than 108 million people have a BMI index of more than 30. A study from northern India reported a childhood obesity prevalence of 5.59% in the higher socio-economic strata when compared to 0.42% in the lower socio-economic strata2. A variety of mechanisms participate in weight regulation and the development of obesity in children, including genetics, developmental influences, and environmental factors. The rapidly changing dietary habits along with the adoption of a sedentary lifestyle, increase the obesity-related diseases such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and metabolic syndrome, enormously.
Factors for childhood obesity includes-
Lack of physical activity: Changes in lifestyle in today’s children with overindulgence in ‘at home entertainment’, has lead to this. Gaming consoles, indoor games, app-based entertainment and television along with a lack of safe neighbourhood and open spaces for outdoor recreation, has created a sedentary young generation. Television viewing is perhaps the best-established environmental influence on the development of obesity during childhood.
Excessive calorie intake: Unrestricted access to energy-dense foods at various platforms like a school cafeteria and school neighbourhood, combined with lack of knowledge about dietary components in school children, leads to increased caloric intake in average children which contributes to obesity.
Socio-cultural: Due to smaller families and more working parents, a certain degree of overprotection and forced feeding by parents, takes place. This, along with false traditional beliefs about health and nutrition, low base knowledge about nutrition in parents and caregivers, also contributes to obesity.
FROM AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR DR GOVIND SHUKLA, NUTRITION EXPERT
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Govind Shukla, Specializes in Pharmacology, Toxicology, Nutraceuticals & Herbal Drugs has published More than 100 research papers in National & International Journals. He is also a reviewer of International Journal of Pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics, Chief editor of IJPNR Journal & Freelance Medical Writer for Different publication Groups including Lambert Academic Publishing Saarbrucken, Germany.