Study in slum finds undernutrition in children and obesity in adults

A community-based cross-sectional survey to determine the health conditions using a mobile screening toolkit in 1,100 households of Devarjeevanahalli slum showed high prevalence of undernutrition among children and obesity among adults in the midst of poverty and poor food security.

The findings of the survey, published recently in BMC Public Health, a peer-reviewed journal, reveal that most of the subjects were unaware of their conditions prior to screening. The study was authored by a team of researchers led by two doctors — Carolin Elizabeth George and Gift Norman — from Bangalore Baptist Hospital (BBH).

The survey was done using THULSI (Toolkit for Healthy Urban Life in Slums Initiative) and mapped parameters related to priority health conditions (hypertension, diabetes, anaemia and malnutrition) at the individual level in 3,693 people from 1,100 households.

Study in slum finds undernutrition in children and obesity in adults

While more than two-thirds (70.4%) of the population fell below the poverty line, only one-third had regular jobs. The researchers found prevalence of hypertension (35.5%), diabetes (16.6%), and anaemia (70.9%) in the screened population. Most of the people (56.5% of hypertensives and 34.4% diabetics) were screened for the first time. Almost half of the children under the age of five were stunted, the survey found.

The prevalence of obesity was to the extent of 39.6%. While a majority (68.7%) of the obese adults were under the age of 45, most were females (76.9%). Most (80.2%) of the obese and overweight people were married.

Explaining the phenomenon of malnutrition in children and obesity in adults, Dr. George told The Hindu on Saturday that it could be because of the non-availability of healthy food for children and consumption of unhealthy food by adults. “During childhood, they are used to consuming less calories. While they get enough calories during adulthood, it is in the form of unhealthy calories,” she said.

Among the hypertensives, more than half were newly detected. Among those newly detected as being hypertensive, 59.7% were female and 53.1% were younger than 50. Another important observation was that 33.3% had stage 2 hypertension, among which 10.5% were also newly diagnosed as having diabetes.

Diabetes was newly diagnosed in 5.7% of the screened population. Prevalence of anaemia was 71.1% among adolescent girls (12-19 years). Among women with severe anaemia, 55% were below the age of 30.

Children under 5

Among those surveyed were 519 children aged under five. Nutritional status was assessed in 318 children using the standard anthropometric indicators — height for age, weight for age, weight for height, and BMI for age.

The prevalence of undernutrition was 41% and that of stunting was 48.5%. Of all the anthropometric parameters, stunting, which shows chronic nutritional deficiency, was most prevalent.

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Printable version | Jul 20, 2021 11:21:32 PM |

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