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Saturday, October 13, 2012 11:13:04 AM (IST)  

Childhood Obesity Vs Physical Fitness - A Reality Check

By Florine Roche

Oct 13: Now that the mid-term examinations are over school children are once again enjoying a brief spell of Dasara holidays. Holidays for the urban kids these days comprises primarily watching television, movies, playing computer, video or mobile games. Naturally, these activities provide more scope for junk binge-eating with hardly any physical activity to burn those calories. Eating and lazing around has given rise to many life-style related diseases and one among them is childhood obesity which is slowly assuming epidemic proportions. Childhood obesity is on the rise in India in the last two decades and medical fraternity is apprehensive at the alarming rate at which heart-disease deaths in our country are increasing. Needless to say this is the upshot of our sedate but luxurious lifestyle and the warning bells and ringing loud and clear calling for our attention to act. There are enough indications that this problem will become an epidemic if not checked at this stage.


Cause for Concern

Expressing concern over this increasing childhood obesity Prof Narasimman Swaminathan, Professor and Head of the Department of Physiotherapy, at Fr Muller Medical College says “it is big concern for our country because by 2020 India may be the no 1 country in the world where deaths will be mainly due to heart diseases. This trend is a product of our sedentary lifestyle. It is a matter of grave concern that heart attack cases associated with middle and old age now manifests in those who are in their 30’s. We need to do something to arrest this trend”.

Children’s health has raised concern the world over. It is well known that our children are our wealth and our future and we need to take care of this human wealth with great care and alacrity if we are really serious about building a strong nation with a healthy populace. Lack of physical fitness and the tendency to indulge in junk eating habits has rendered our young population obese and they lack simple physical fitness. The reasons for this are varied – increasing disposable income among the growing middle class, more comforts, space constraint within the city limits, increasing focus on academics, allure of junk food and the expediency of transport etc., has led to a laid-back attitude among today’s youngsters.

It is the urban children who are who are more prone to this childhood obesity. It has become quite fashionable and fascinating for children these days to fill their bellies with every possible junk food flooding the market. Parents also mollycoddle their children with enough and more pocket money which is spent mostly on junk food.

According to Anupama K who did a survey when she was a student a year and half ago under the guidance of Prof Narasimman “there is a clear demarcation when it comes to the fitness levels of urban and rural children. Rural children boast of a better physical fitness, better flexibility, better before and after school activity ratio and better eating habits as compared to their urban counterparts”.


Warning Signs

Narasimman said that the survey was conducted in a sample of 684 students aged between 9 and 13 in schools in and around Mangalore. “The survey clearly showed that while rural children spend 30 minutes of time everyday on physical activity urban children spend only 5 minutes of their everyday itinerary on other activity. Similarly pre-school activity in rural areas was 70 minutes every day as compared 27 minutes of urban children. Urban children spend 85 minutes on an average everyday on watching television and rural children are just behind with 64 minutes of average TV watching. Even during school hours when rural children spent 70 minutes in sports activities their urban counterparts spent only 27 minutes”.

Narasimman said that based on the survey his team visited about 17 schools in Mangalore and impressed upon them on the need of more physical activity for children. Narasimman also says that his team is ready to visit any schools if they wish, so as to educate both the teachers and students on the importance of providing more physical activity to students.

It is quite regrettable that schools and particularly colleges these days have been giving less consideration to sports-related activities. Up to high school students get a few hours of physical activity as part of the curriculum. But once they enter the portals of the college sports periods completely disappear because the management, parents and students feel the thrust is more for academics. This vacuous approach is costing us dearly because adolescence is considered to be a sensitive period for the development of obesity. Studies have revealed that being obese during childhood increases the risk of a range of disorders in adulthood, no matter whether the adult is obese or not.


Healthy or Obese?

India already has the largest number of diabetics and childhood obesity is said to be the root cause of type II diabetes, having the potential to cause serious and long term health complications. There are also a host of diseases linked to childhood obesity. It is disquieting to know that these days in India children and adults show health problems and symptoms usually associated with the middle age and old age.

In this age of size zero when it comes to children we still go by the age old belief that obese child is healthy, only to forget that ‘baby fat’ and chubby cheeks if continue to spillover to adolescence would be detrimental to the health of our future generation. Mental and physical growth of children is invariably associated with their general health and this health awareness should start from early childhood and children can build upon that foundation for the rest of their lives. The choice to be healthy or obese is in our hands.

Parents should understand the importance of physical activity and persuade their children to go for outdoor games rather than encouraging watching television and playing video and computer games. It is not too late and a beginning can be made during these holidays as the weather is appropriate for outdoor activity.

Comments on this article
Dinesh Salian, Kudroli ,Mangalore
Monday, October 15, 2012

Parents have to be blamed for childrens obesity.It is the parents who buy their kids hanburgers, pizza,KFC etc etc.Children should be made to run or walk.Todays kids need a car to go from the bedroom to the toilet.Such is the modern fashion.

Sheila, Mangalore/USA
Sunday, October 14, 2012

Visit any restaurant or snack shops in India, you are given a choice of sweets, fried food or dishes floating in oil. Shetty says "Eat Indian Food" so is that his solution to combat obesity? Makes me wonder. When people are ignorant it is easy to blame the west and western food. Each one makes their own choices!!

Len, USA
Sunday, October 14, 2012

I enjoyed this article. Childhood obesity is a real concern all over the world, in the United States as well as India. Education is the key, and parents who take initiative to eat healthy and exercise with their children.
Len Saunders
http://www.lensaunders.com

ALWYN, CANADA
Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rakesh shetty, mangalore i WANT TO ADVISE YOU NEGATIVITY IS ANOTHER DISEAS IN LIFE KILLS THE HUMAN EARLIER THEN THE LIFE SPAN. EVEN THOUGH YOU DO YOGA, PRATICE RELIGION STILL IF YOU ARE NEGATIVE IN YOUR THOUGHTS WILL HARM YOUR LIFE. I SEE IN WESTERN COUNTRIES PEOPLE LIVE AVERAGE LIFE CYCLE IS AGE 82 AND IN INDIA I SEE PEOPLE DIE USING INDIAN CULTURE BY AGE 40. CULTURE, RELIGION IS NOT A FACTOR OF HEALTH. THINK POSITIVE, DO GOOD TO OTHERS, HELP EACH OTHER, HAVE PEACE WITHIN YOU AND SURROUNDING YOU, LOVE YOUR NIEGHBOUR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF, DON'T HARM OTHERS INTENTIONALLY OR UN INTERNATIONALLY, STOP COMMUNAL THINKING MAN YOU WILL NOT DIE TILL THE AGE OF 80 . MY FATHER 83 WHO DID ALL ABOVE AND STILL LIVES A GREAT LIFE WITHOUT ANY MEDICATION. NEVER DONE YOGA, AND LIVED A CHRISTIAN LIFE AND JESUS BLESSED HIM TO LIVE GREAT 83 YEARS AND BLESS HIM LONG LIFE ANOTHER 15 YEARS. WESTERN LIFE IS VERY GOOD, PEACEFUL. EVEN INDIAN PEOPLE LIVE MUCH HAPPIER LIFE YOUR HINDUS HERE IN WESTERN NATIONS THEN INDIA. SO STOP BLAMMING OTHERS WHICH YOU CAN'T EVEN TAKE CARE OF YOUR SINGLE LIFE. BE POSITIVE MAN. IF THAT IS WHAT YOUR NATURE OF BLAMMING OTHERS THEN CHANGE YOURSELF.

Ravi. B. Shenava, MANGALORE
Saturday, October 13, 2012

Childhood obesity will last in Adulthood also and invite all sorts of diseases.
So, do not become Couch-Potatos and watch TV whole day or use internet continuously.
Cycling is the Best, but unfortunately in our Mangalore city the middle-class people think it is below their dignity to ride cycle (Mangalore roads are also not fit for cycling). Parents only dissuade their children from riding bicycle and get Scooty for their children at the tender age of 14 yrs to show off their wealth. Swimming is also very good for children but we do not have safe river or pond for that. There is just one swimming pool for entire Mangalore.
The 'King of Games' - Foot Ball, Volley Ball & Basket Ball, these three games are cheap and best for our children. Cricket is not of much use for trimming obesity.

Any culture (except Agriculture) has no solution for obesity. Even then why some people are always dragging the culture in all the matters with their CAPITAL LETTERS and Grammatical mistakes ?. Why 95% of the Temple Priests are very Fat disease-ridden even at young age if the Religion and culture has solution for obesity? Why they have to display their naked extra large Bakasura Bellies & Bums to female devotees also.?

Rajesh, Brahmavara
Saturday, October 13, 2012

It is true that urban children do not spend their time in outdoor activities. There are other factors also contributes to this such as tuition classes, lack of playground facilities in the school and at home backyards etc. Where as in rural, children have to walk miles to go to school, no proper nutrition food and enough time and playground facilities to keep them slim and some times under weight. But the fact is that these imbalance may be seen in other parts of the country or metropolitan cities.
For undivided South Kanara these statistics may not apply because we have balanced diet, most of them have fish than the fat food and we have enough physical, cultural, Scouts, Guides, NCC and NSS activities for the children and most of our school have playgrounds compare to any other parts of India. Again in Mangalore city, which is rural and which part of the Mangalore is Urban and where the study was conducted etc. should be imporatant rather than the generalizing the outcome of this study (childhood obesity)vs physical fitness to whole Mangalore children.

rama poojary, kadri
Saturday, October 13, 2012

dear rakesh,

Please guide us in how to make yoga and make meditation.WE need your help and support. The art of living swamy charges 10000 rs Plus for the course.Please guide us to make it.

Ramesh, managalore
Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mr Rakesh Indian culture tells us to use ghee n coconut oil this oil is the worst of all is in the bottom most when compared to all other oils, n to say u dont approve Narasimhan kindly know he is a man with lots n lots of research behind him so stop talking rubbish. just banning the outlets will not help,

what about people selling locally made chips u want to ban them too then who will give them jobs u? its upto individual adults n the parents to rstrict the fat one takes along with exercise.

Godwin, udupi
Saturday, October 13, 2012

Yes ..It's a serious Concern.In The Name of Fast Life ,we are spoiling our Health.Peoples are only Behind of Money..and least botherd about health.Present generation Kids are behind of Electronic Devices.Lot of Children Keep Cell Phones Below their Pillows.Parents Should Put their Kids atleast put any Sports.It will Benefit to Kid maintain Both Physical And Mental Balance.

santhosh, Udupi
Saturday, October 13, 2012

More than 30 crores peoples in India they are strugglling for just one meal per day...

Cynthia, Moodbidri
Saturday, October 13, 2012

Eat balanced food, not just vegetables or just meat. our food should contain brown bread, meat,fish and green vegetables.also need to have physical excerise, like running, playing and walking. drinks 6-8 glasses of water. you will be fit.

Rakesh shetty, mangalore
Saturday, October 13, 2012

I AM NOT AGREE WITH PROF.NARASIMHAN. IN 2020 NOTHING WILL HAPPEN TO INDIANS. THEY WILL NOT SUFFER WITH HEART ATTACK. THESE CASES WILL BECOME REDUCE MORE.

BECAUSE AFTER 2014 FDI,KFC,MCDONALS,FIZZA ETC ETC. EVERYTHING WILL BE BAN.

APPLY INDIAN CULTURE,FOLLOW RELIGION, MAKE MEDITATION, MAKE REGULAR YOGA EARLY MORNING. THIS WILL MAKE STAY FIT FOREVER.

EAT INDIAN FOOD. STOP EATING JUNK FOOD,WESTERN FOOD.

I AM SURE 2020 INDIA WILL BECOME MOST SAFE AND STRONG COUNTRY IN ALL OVER WORLD.

 
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