Is your child plump or obese?

Lets face it. Indians love plump kids. Children with chubby cheeks are regarded as healthy while lean children are looked upon as ‘undernourished.

But contemporary urban realities call for a relook at these perceptions.

A recent National Family Health Survey reveals 20 percent of school age children are overweight. In metros, the estimate is that 50 percent of children are overweight.

Plump spells danger

The many dangers of obesity can quickly take the cute tag off fat children.

Childhood obesity is likely to cause diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, early puberty, eating disorders, and several other lifestyle diseases which earlier afflicted adults only.

In addition, overweight children are at higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and hypertension later in life.

The urban lifestyle

Too many urban children eat junk foods almost every day. These are chock-full with salt, sugar flavouring agents and preservatives, all of which can wreak havoc on body immune systems.

Soft drinks are a major hazard. Many parents arent aware that sugar in soft drinks and packaged juices prevents the body from absorbing the water in it. This results in less water for the body, leading to many ailments including kidney stones and gall bladder stones. Hours spent in front of the television or computer cuts out physical activity, adding on the fat.

Acknowledging the problem

The biggest hurdle to combating the growing danger of obesity is the refusal to acknowledge it. If in doubt, check the BMI — body mass index — of your child. BMI is the weight (in kg) divided by the height in metres squared. Online tools will help you figure out the BMI that spells obesity, according to your childs age.

Confront this clear and present danger with major lifestyle changes.

Towards healthier kids

Here are some tips to improve your childs BMI:

Make healthy food options available. Think channa, home-roasted groundnuts, dry and natural fruits.

When visiting a shop or supermarket, set limits on buying junk food. Choosing one item instead of picking up five minimises the damage.

Get your child interested in dance or sports, and find a suitable coaching/activity class.

While shopping, encourage your child to buy a book, craft materials or games instead of confectionery.

– Nisha D

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