Wednesday, 11 September 2013

"The weight of our nation : India" weekly series

   PART 1  of the series in

 "The weight of our nation:


Childhood obesity in urban India is prevalent and ever growing. Not only is this the problem faced by the upper classes but also the middle class and the lower classes are not spared.

Genetics and hereditary may be blamed but one has to remember that these are only inflamed because of a bad lifestyle and constantly changing dietary habits towards the unhealthy pattern.

In 1974, the Government of India adopted a National Policy for Children, declaring the nation's children as `supremely important assets'. The government and policy makers should address the issue of childhood obesity in urban India immediately, as such a problem will hamper the growth of our country, taking heed from Winston Churchill who states the truth when he quotes “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.”


“Where you find obesity, you'll find poverty. It's a reflection of the South's struggle to raise its standard of living.” - Bill Ferris

·         Worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980.
·         65% of the world's populations live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
·         Obesity is preventable.
·         More than 75% of overweight children live in developing countries with the prevalence in Africa almost doubling in the last 20 years. Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults, with an increased risk of diabetes and other diseases.
·         Some 43 million children under five are overweight or obese.

world health organizations ADVICE: “To avoid a massive explosion of nutrition problems in the next generation, policymakers urgently need to give more attention to improving the nutritional status of pregnant women and adolescent girls who will become mothers of the next generation,” 

Childhood obesity is a global problem without a global conversation

Prevalence of obesity
- morbid obesity affecting 5% of the country's population
-In Northern India obesity was most prevalent in urban populations (male = 5.5%, female = 12.6%), followed by the urban slums (male = 1.9%, female = 7.2%). Obesity rates were the lowest in rural populations (male = 1.6%, female = 3.8%).

“Rapidly changing dietary practices and a sedentary lifestyle have led to increasing prevalence of childhood obesity (5-19 yr) in developing countries recently: 41.8% in Mexico, 22.1% in Brazil, 22.0% in India, and 19.3% in Argentina. Moreover, secular trends indicate increasing prevalence rates in these countries: 4.1 to 13.9% in Brazil during 1974-1997, 12.2 to 15.6% in Thailand during 1991-1993, and 9.8 to 11.7% in India during 2006-2009.” (1)

The prevalence of malnutrition in India is a serious problem; the World Bank estimates that India is the second highest country suffering from malnutrition. Global hunger index rates India 15th as a leading country with a hunger situation. 
Then how and most importantly why is obesity an issue in a country rating so high in malnutrition.

This reminds me of a quotation by one of India’s greatest                                                               

  “The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed.”                                                                                                                                                 - Mahatma Gandhi

A developing country like mine has an abundance to feed all its citizens or children as we like to call our nation Bharat Maata. Although increasing population and urbanization has lead to a scarcity in all its recourses. Food is one such resource but as it is a basic human need it affects much greatly than for say money or land.

Urbanization is supposed to lead the way for a better future, which obviously constitutes of a better and healthier population.  It has however backfired in a few ways. One such example is the alarming rate at which obesity is at the rise in India.  The topic for my seminar is childhood obesity; it is absurd to some as I have been question why obesity in a country flooded with hungry.

My answer to that is malnutrition has affected our country severely, we as a nation are trying to overcome such a grave problem but ignoring the steady growth of overweight and obese individuals will be the first step to another serious problem. India doesn’t need any more diseases and hence I as a nutrition student strive to educate and inform masses about the silent evil of obesity which lurks in the shadows as all the light is only given to malnutrition.

A nation with obese children will lead to a future generation of obese individuals, and obesity is a prerequisite to diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular problems, type 2 diabetes, bone problems, hernia, joint problems, arthritis, depression, high cholesterol and finally lower life expectancy.

Obese children become obese adults and therefore childhood obesity is a serious matter and cannot be allowed to grow out of hand and become an epidemic like it has in many parts of the world. After all children are our future and we must remember George Benson as he    advice's 
“Children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way”

(1)  Childhood obesity in developing countries: epidemiology, determinants, and prevention.
Gupta NGoel KShah PMisra A.                                                                                                             

Source: Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.


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