Lifestyle related diseases which were earlier seen in older adults in India, are now seen not only in young adults but also adolescents. With a prevalence of nearly 20% of childhood overweight and obesity in India,(1) it’s time to take cognizance of the ever-increasing numbers and act to prevent the potential disease risk arising from excess weight in future. Prevalence of pre-diabetes/diabetes was 12.3% and 8.4% among adolescent boys and girls in India, respectively(2). Most children who are overweight or obese will continue to carry excess weight in their adulthood too.
Excess quantity of food, lack of adequate nutrients (fibre, protein and micronutrients), reduced physical activity and inadequate sleep are the major lifestyle influences on children’s weight and health. Some ways to prevent/overcome such problems and improve children’s health are –
- Involve family and teachers to ensure that children follow a healthy lifestyle.
- Parents and teachers can lead by example by eating right, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight themselves.
- Serve nutritious food in school/college cafeterias.
- Guide children to pay attention to natural hunger pangs rather than to ‘clean up’ an overfilled plate of food.
- Do not promise desserts or chocolates as rewards.
- Stock the kitchen with healthy options.
When children eat healthy foods and stay physically active, their bodies will find a way to maintain good health and optimum weight.
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