Healthcare experts warn of rising incidence of childhood obesity

New Delhi: Limited to their homes amid COVID-19 pandemic disease, children are at increased risk of obesity due to increased junk food, lack of socialization and physical activity, health care experts have warned bring.

COVID-19 is expected to exacerbate the obesity problem in middle and upper socioeconomic groups, they said.

The economic, food, and health system disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, health care experts, is expected to continue to dominate all forms of malnutrition.

The latest National Family Health Survey, conducted in 22 states in pre-pandemic times, provided an in-depth picture of child nutrition in the country.

While on the other hand, it showed an increase in malnutrition in several states, the government study also showed an increase in childhood obesity in 20 of the 22 states surveyed.

A senior official said tackling obesity will be a key area of ​​focus for the government under the recently launched Mission Poshan.

However, health care experts have said that the potential effects of COVID 19 in exacerbating obesity and obesity conditions cannot be ignored.

“COVID 19 is expected to exacerbate the obesity situation in middle and upper socio-economic groups as the bias for young children and adolescents of school age often includes munching or high-intake snacks. calorie and empty such as ‘namkeen would’, biscuits, bread, buns, nuts, ice creams, biscuits and cakes, fried snacks, sugary drinks.

“These items are rich in carbohydrates, sugars and fats and are regularly consumed and consumed to alleviate poverty,” said Dr Sheila Vir, Director, Center for Nutrition and Public Health Development, Delhi.

She said parents are also encouraged to feed such things to meet the pressure of constant demand for food to be given to younger children.

“In addition, those children who can’t play outside spend a lot more hours sitting in front of the computer or television,” she said.

Dr Sujeet Ranjan, Executive Director, Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security said that children in India are currently suffering from a double risk of malnutrition; children suffer from malnutrition as well as malnutrition.

“By being locked down and with limited mobility, children had restricted access to socialization, play, and even physical communication, which was vital for their wellbeing and psychosocial development. School closures prevented children from learning and restricted their interactions with peers, ”he said.

Schools across the country were closed in March to release the COVID-19. They have been partially reopened in some states since 15 October.

“Children felt confused and lost with the current situation, leading to frustration and anxiety, which only increased with the excessive pressure on social media and social media,” he said.

Warning of the side effects of obesity, he said, childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of premature death and disability as an adult.

“Lack of dietary diversity is one of the reasons for rising obesity, obese children and high malnutrition. It’s the change of diet and the consumption of high carbohydrate and high sugar foods is affecting children’s health, ”he said.

Regular consumption and excessive consumption of foods high in salt, sugar and fat leads to obesity and is a risk factor for many diseases. Sport for improvement (S4D) for physical fitness, a balanced diet, reduced television viewing are the four pillars through which childhood obesity can be reduced, Ranjan said.

Dr. Somasekar Ramaswamy, a professor of pediatrics at Madras Medical College, said not only children but obesity also affect adults.

“When it comes to children, online classes may be one of the main reasons, and on the other hand it may be, work from home for adults. In all cases, they have to sit for hours with excessive consumption of junk food and almost no physical activity leads to an imbalance between intake and consumption of calories, leading to increased weight accumulation. , week after week, ”he said.

To prevent overweight in young children 6-23 months, Vir said caregivers should make sure to follow a wise selection of food items and proper nutritional habits.

“Avoiding a baby, if it is deficient earlier, should be avoided. TV time should be limited and play time encouraged. Regular weight monitoring should, as far as possible, be encouraged. Of course, the whole family should ‘Eat Right’ because maternal obesity is also linked to overweight and childhood obesity. Also become accustomed to checking the nutritional content printed on food packaging, in line with government / FSSAI policy, ”she said.

Interventions at school and community level that promote awareness and education about healthy eating habits, lifestyle patterns and regular exercise are essential to prevent obesity in children.

Another step in this regard is strict advertising management and media intervention that will prevent deceptive propaganda of unhealthy foods by celebrities that accept children, Vir said.

“Interventions at the biopsychosocial level therefore use a multidisciplinary team approach as a cornerstone in the effective management of childhood obesity,” Vir said.

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