Nearly 30% of kids in private schools obese, says survey

July 31, 2018 12:00 am | Updated 03:50 am IST - New Delhi

Many also suffer from pre-diabetic and hypertensive conditions

This should have you sitting up and worried! A survey has revealed that 30% of children attending private schools in Delhi are obese and many of them suffer from pre-diabetic and hypertensive conditions.

The study Adolescent Obesity in Asian Indians – A rising menace noted that the alarming rise in obesity — both in urban and rural children — has a huge imperative for disease prevention and management.

The survey noted that prevalence of overweight/obesity in urban children in Delhi has shown an increase from 16% in 2002 to about 24% in 2006.

Data for the Capital show that prevalence of obesity among adolescent children (14-17 years of age) was 29% in private schools and 11.3% in government-funded schools in 2016.

The survey revealed that obesity is now a pandemic with colossal health, social and economic impact. Obesity affects all age, gender, socio-economic and geographic groups. The World Health Organisation has declared obesity as the fastest rising epidemic. In India it is estimated that between 50-100 million people are overweight/obese, which closely parallels the same number of people who are diabetic.

“This is shocking to say the least,” said Sudhir Kalhan, senior consultant (Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgery), Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

Early intervention

Speaking on the study, Latika Bhalla, senior consultant (Adolescent Paediatrics) at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said that besides the obvious reasons of rising childhood obesity the other known risk factors to childhood-adolescent obesity are parental obesity, diabetic mother, maternal smoking during pregnancy, pre-term birth, lower birth weight, early cessation of breast feeding, and longer bottle feeding.

“Close monitoring of high-risk children is mandatory... best hope for prevention of obesity and attendant metabolic syndrome is through early intervention. Appropriate management of these children begins by screening for genetic, endocrine and iatrogenic influences once they are found to be obese,” said Dr. Bhalla. Doctors also advocated for lifestyle modifications and individual/family counselling.

“Once the child crosses the age of physiologic and physical growth (usually by about 14-15 years of age), the role of additional therapy in the shape of bariatric surgery is also a medically valid option. This form of therapy finds validation as morbidly obese children-adolescents above this age are unable to reduce their weight to a healthy range by lifestyle modifications or medical treatment,” said Dr Kalhan.

He added that they have patients as young as 14 years old who have undergone bariatric surgery.

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