A recent survey has found alarmingly high levels of obesity, hypertension and anaemia among students of Chennai Schools

Hypertension and obesity, lifestyle disorders generally associated with adults, are slowly and scarily making their presence felt among adolescents.

A recent survey by Madras Medical College of 5,097 students in classes XI and XII in schools run by Chennai Corporation, found that the teenagers are not quite in the pink of health.

Over 40 per cent avoid vegetables every day, and nearly 90 per cent of them eat no fruits. The students were also found to consume sugary beverages (soft drinks) twice a week and around 35 per cent of them watch television for more than two hours a day — making their lifestyles somewhat unhealthy.

More than 10 per cent of the children were obese and over nine per cent, hypertensive. And 26.5 percent of students, most of them boys (only 30 were girls) were anaemic with haemoglobin levels of less than 10 mg/dl. The normal level is 12.5 for girls and 14 for boys. Of the surveyed students, two-thirds were girls.

The survey, conducted over a period of three months, included a questionnaire that students and their parents answered. The students’ height, weight, body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, haemoglobin and serum cholesterol levels were measured.

A total of 72 students (41 girls) exhibited hyperglycaemia with high blood sugar levels and 490 students were hypertensive. While 250 students (184 girls) were obese and 510 students were overweight, it was found that among them, 530 students (492 girls) were centrally obese, with a waist circumference over normal limits.

For the college, the results came as a surprise. Dean V. Kanagasabai said, “The results are alarming. We did not expect to find such young students to have hypertension and hyperglycaemia. We are now planning to conduct the survey for the other 2,000 students who were left out,” he said.

The results were released on Wednesday, observed as World Diabetes Day.

Those with abnormal sugar levels will be asked to come to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, which is attached to the college, for further investigations. According to the hospital authorities they conducted the survey only in those schools that had given the permission. Most of them were girls’ schools.

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