Fast food is making children slow

Startling and disturbing facts about prevalent and possible health problems among children brought out

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: Fast food and fitness do not go together and this has been amply demonstrated afresh by a new survey conducted on 3,800 children from over 30 government and private schools of Delhi. Alarmingly, the survey -- conducted by the Delhi Diabetes Research Centre -- has revealed that over 17 per cent of the children are overweight and 62 per cent of all of them like eating junk food like burgers and pizzas while giving green vegetables a go-by.

Coming out with some startling and disturbing facts about prevalent and possible health problems among children, the survey has revealed that at least 11 per cent of the children prefer eating lunch from the school canteen and so do not bring their lunch from home. "The increasing trend of fast food culture has a strong liking in children with over 81 per cent claiming to going out to a fast food joint at least once in a week,'' said the DDRC president, Dr. A.K. Jhingan.

Stating that 47 per cent of the children also admitted to taking at least once cold drink daily, he said many of these children were found to be having high blood pressure and family history of diabetes. Further, the lifestyle study also revealed other possible reasons for the increase of childhood obesity.

The study -- under which questionnaires were given to children to access their lifestyle habits -- also revealed that 26 per cent of them do not exercise at school and at home too, about 50 per cent do not exercise with 13 per cent not even playing outdoors. A probably reason is that 35 per cent of them spend more time watching television and playing on computer.

Stating that adding to the risk in the case of these children is their family history, DDRC said 26 per cent of them reported that one of their parents was overweight while 10 per cent of them had one of their parents as a patient of diabetes.

Noting that in India there are 33 million people with diabetes and their numbers are growing, Dr. Jhingan said at this rate India is forecast to have over 75 million people with diabetes by 2025. "The rising levels of obesity are likely to drive the prevalence of diabetes even higher than the present forecasts which do not take into account changes in obesity epidemic,'' he said, adding that while about 15 per cent of the children are obese 85 per cent of children diagnosed with Type II diabetes are overweight or obese.

Since the "Fight Obesity -- Prevent Diabetes'' campaign had been launched by DDRC in association with the Delhi Government under its Bhagidari Scheme in August 2004, the organisation has now also suggested that to control the problem of obesity and diabetes among children, a seven-point programme be adopted for diabetes awareness, increasing awareness about benefits of active lifestyle, discourage spending of more time on television and computer, discourage the burger-cola culture, evolving incentive plans in schools to encourage sports and physical activity among children and to avoid consumption of fast food in schools.

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