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Updated: June 6, 2013 16:47 IST

All junk food and no play makes for dull adolescents

R. Sujatha
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Experts say unhealthy eating and too much TV are causing diseases

The survey of adolescents in Chennai Schools has surprised both doctors at Madras Medical College (MMC) and Chennai Corporation officials.

Findings revealed that almost 90 per cent of the students rarely ate fruit, and 50 per cent do not want to eat vegetables. In fact, during the survey the children were emphatic when they said they did not like vegetables, said Anand Moses, head of the college’s diabetology department, which conducted the survey.

The surveyors and officials say they are surprised that most children eat junk food and consume sugary beverages even though many of them are from economically weak backgrounds. Dr. Moses added that many parents packed noodles for a mid-morning snack, and the children ate this as well as lunch under the noon meal scheme.

Among the other unhealthy habits noticed was the number of hours spent in front of the television. On an average, children spent two hours watching TV and nearly 84 per cent of them did not play outside even two days a week.

Hemalatha, a class XII student in a school in Ayanavaram, said her mother, Lalli, cooks vegetables twice a week. Lalli is a domestic help and does not have time to prepare meals at home.

“I buy brinji during lunch hour from a restaurant outside school. I don’t eat the food served in school,” Hemalatha said.

Lalli, however, complains that Hemalatha discards all the vegetables in her sambar rice. “Occasionally I buy bananas and though vegetables are expensive I do buy them. I cook meat once a week but I can’t cook greens because I don’t have time,” Lalli said.

Hemalatha watches TV for one hour each day and doesn’t play any sport as she is more focused on her studies. She is not to blame, as most schools use physical training classes to teach other subjects. Doctors who conducted the survey said that teachers admitted that students preferred to study during PT classes as they could not finish their portions before examinations.

The MMC survey findings should not come as a surprise, as a study conducted at the Institute of Child Health in 2001-2002 by paediatrician P. Venkataraman and endocrinologist P.G. Sundararaman found that children living in slums were as prone to obesity as children from affluent families. That study had found that half of the 904 children in the 5 to 12 age group surveyed snacked on chips regularly. The MMC survey also found that all the children who watched TV tended to snack on chips. “They eat one full packet of chips,” Dr. Moses said.

After the release of the survey, Mayor Saidai S. Doraisamy said he would arrange for a meeting with all the surveyed students and their parents in a stadium to emphasise the need for physical activity and better lifestyles. He also said he would call for a meeting of education officers in all zones and impress upon them to identify a play area for children in schools without playgrounds.

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I agree 100% with Abhi's comments. These are known facts. What is that Government is doing to develop porammpokku lands in city as play grounds? They need not spend hefty amount. Let them convert those porampokku to playgrouns and put proper fence and level it for the children around to play. Instead they will create this as a big project to earn money from it. As long as money stays as priorty-1 pushing service as priority-2, we cannot expect anything big from most of our politicians.. I meant MOST and NOT ALL..

from:  mohan
Posted on: Nov 15, 2012 at 14:42 IST

Apart from being able to attach numbers to their findings, this survey
(research?) was a total waste of time and resouces. What is truly
surprising is that the medical researchers were "surprised" at their
findings relating to teen diet preferences. Where have these people
been all this time? Expensive vegetables are unconscionable in a modern
agricultural society, and junk food prevalence is a matter of
commercializing children's habits. Food habits are dictated as much by
fads as by parental attention: our society has changed for the worse in
regard to both these factors in the past decade or so, and we have only
ourselves to blame. Children from poor families have always had poor
diets: and that is why we spend fortunes on public health education,
atleast on paper, and get no mileage for all the resources expended. If
the plan looks good on paper, and the necessary bureacratic inanities
are repeated ad infinitum, we move on believing we have accomplished
some thing. We have failed.

from:  Abhi Buch
Posted on: Nov 15, 2012 at 10:42 IST

The price of vegetables and fruits are gooing to shoot up in the market after this article.

from:  Syed
Posted on: Nov 15, 2012 at 09:45 IST
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