Finally here is a sure-shot-method of measuring a child’s progress towards obesity.

With doctors warning of a rise in the number of children being brought in with adult lifestyle diseases – including obesity, diabetes and hypertension – a multi-centre, cross-sectional study done on 10,842 children in five cities – Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Raipur – has now suggested healthy cut-off values of waist circumference for screening Metabolic Syndrome in Indian children.

The study has developed age and sex specific reference curves for waist circumference for Indian children.

According to the study, children in the age group of 2 to 5 years should have a waist circumference not exceeding 20.59 inches, similarly in the 6 to 9 age group boys should be less than 24.96 inches while it is 25.0 inches for girls.

Boys in the age group of 10 to 14 years should have a waist circumference of less than 30.55 inches while it is 30.51 inches for girls, and in the 15 to 17 age group the boys should have central circumference of less than 34.05 inches while it is 33.50 inches for girls.

Obesity on the rise

According to Dr. Archana Dayal Arya, Paediatric Endocrinologist, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and co-author of the study: “The prevalence of childhood obesity is rising in developing countries, including India. Abdominal obesity is also on the rise and is associated with increased risk for metabolic syndrome (MS).”

“MS in children has been defined as the presence of high triglyceride levels in blood, Low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), increased fasting blood glucose levels, high systolic blood pressure and high waist circumference. MS results in increased risk for hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease,” she added.

The doctor explained that even in her daily practice she was seeing many children who were suffering from diseases which were earlier seen only in adults, primarily because of obesity.

“It is shocking to see children as young as six with diseases including hypertension, diabetes mellitus and abnormalities in the lipid profile. In this study we found 350 children suffering from hypertension,” said Dr. Archana.

Giving details of the study, Dr. Anuradha Khadilkar, consultant paediatrician, Jehangir Hospital, Pune and corresponding author of the study said: “We found in the study that primary or essential hypertension, commonly seen in adults is becoming common in children who are obese or overweight. Therefore it is essential for them to change their lifestyle and lose weight. They should be encouraged to participate in outdoor sports and other physical activities. Children should also cut down on the intake of high calorie foods with poor nutritional value (junk food) and a high fat diet.”

More In: Delhi