The study found unhealthy BMI scores and an ‘alarming’ lack of fitness in 7-17 year olds
The body mass index (BMI) and fitness levels of children in India, in the age group of 7–17 years, are far from satisfactory, a nationwide study has found.
The results of the study conducted among 77,669 children in 68 cities and 17 States pointed to unhealthy BMI scores and an ‘alarming’ lack of fitness among the study’s participants.
Geographically, children in all five regions of the country were deemed equally unfit with unhealthy BMI scores of 37% (central), 39% (east and north), 37% (south) and 38% (west), according to the study.
The study was conducted by EduSports, as part of its annual school health and fitness survey.
“The weighted scores for the regions across all fitness parameters, including anaerobic capacity, flexibility, lower and upper body strength, abdominal strength and BMI, do not vary too much. This is cause for concern,” said Saumil Majumdar, CEO, EduSports.
The team used unique metrics, a set of tools evolved over a period of five years in interaction with schools, to measure the various parameters, he said. For instance, upper body strength was measured by the distance to which a child was able to throw a ball, and anaerobic fitness, by the time taken to sprint a certain distance.
A software programme then classified these into various grades of fitness and arrived at a percentage above or below average fitness levels.
“In Tamil Nadu, fitness levels were almost the same as in other regions, just making small concessions for environmental variations,” said U. Tulasi Das, a physical educator, who was involved in measuring at the ground level.
The primary causes for higher BMI are sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits and little or no play. Longer hours spent before computers or other gadgets might be among the main reasons, paediatricians said.
While exercise is a key part of the fitness programme, Vijay Vishwanathan, of M.V. Hospital for Diabetes, who is currently involved in a school-diet project for the Central Board of Secondary Education, said diet was equally important.
“Unless children get the right kind of food and also, avoid the junk, it will be difficult to achieve overall better health outcomes,” he said.