Dump the junk food, save your child from diabetes

November 16th, 2008 - 2:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) If your child asks you for some loose cash for eating at the school canteen or a pizza luncheon - consider not giving in, for his sake! A recent study reveals that 85 percent of school children between 10-14 years, diagnosed with diabetes are obese owing to their improper eating habits.

The on-going study was conducted by the Delhi Diabetes Research Centre (DDRC) under the Bhagidari Scheme of the Delhi government on 5,802 school children in the capital.

The study attributed obesity and emerging health issues to the change in eating patterns that ‘mimic western lifestyle’. At least 11 percent of the children prefer eating lunch from school canteens and do not bring their lunch from home; while 81 percent of children visit fast food joints at least once a week, the study said.

Moreover, 62 percent children like eating junk food like burger or pizza to green vegetables and 47 percent take at least 1 cold drink daily.

As if this was not enough, 25 percent of children do not exercise at school. At home this number reduces to half, with 13 percent not playing outdoors at home. Over and above this, 35 percent of children spend more time watching TV and playing on the computer.

“These overweight children have 70 percent chances of becoming overweight adults and prone to develop diabetes, heart diseases and high blood pressure affecting the productive population of the nation,” said Ashok Jhingan, chairman, DDRC.

Adding to the risk is the family history factor. At least 10 percent of the studied children had parents with diabetes.

All this means one in five children are either obese or overweight, said the study.

According to Jhingan: “Obesity is one of the major factors that can lead to ‘pre diabetes’ and later on type 2 diabetes in adults. Once children reach middle school level, it is difficult to reverse this trend. Two years back, there were 200,000 juvenile diabetics in India. Latest data puts the figure close to 305,000”.

Diabetes is a serious condition that affects the body’s ability to control its blood sugar levels. Diabetic patients produce little or no insulin; or their cells don’t respond properly to insulin. Untreated diabetes is said to be a huge burden on the society and the healthcare system.

Altering diet, increasing moderate physical activity and lowering body weight are the key to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.

Now with this study reflecting on the dismal condition of the youth, ‘immediate measures’ have to be taken.

“Change has to be brought about at home and in lifestyle. Discipline is the key - now almost everyone is health conscious but children are not!”

Who is to be blame for this? The career driven parents and competitive academic schedules, answers Jhingan.

“In some schools there weren’t playgrounds - some did not even hold the stipulated hour long physical education class, instead extra classes were being conducted,” he recalled.

He went on to say that while earlier, parents and schools promoted the idea of nutritious food and educating children, now children lacked basic information.

“Young parents are career driven - working all week with an ill-informed domestic help monitoring the child’s health. On weekends rather than cook a nutritious meal, they compensate time by taking kids out to fast food joints, promoting the wrong idea.”

In its recommendations to the Delhi government and to schools, the DDRC has said that there is an acute need for each school to have a nutrition expert to monitor the problem and guide parents, teachers and children.

In fact, Jhingan concluded that the problem was such that one needs to resort to more drastic steps - “Incentive based exercise modules be developed- if the child does well in physical exercise give him 10 marks more in assessment!”

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