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What is making children and teenagers obese? Is it poor eating habits or lack of physical activity? An online survey conducted among parents of children aged 5-17 years has revealed that it is a combination of the two.
The survey involving nearly 1,000 respondents from Delhi-NCR shows that children eat out a lot but barely indulge in physical activity. More than 78% teenagers (aged between 10 and 14 years) eat out 2-3 times a week, mostly junk food and aerated drinks. Among those aged between 5 and 9 years and adolescents (aged between 15 and 18 years), this percentage is 60% and 67%, respectively.
In the last few years, several initiatives have been taken by leading schools to encourage students to take part in sports and daily exercises. But most parents said children barely participate in them. They blamed technology influence (59%), lack of sporting infrastructure (46%) and overload of studies (41%) for this.
Many parents also blamed safety concern on public places for the inactive lifestyle of children. "Our survey shows parents are aware of the problem, but they aren't doing enough to prevent a crisis situation. Young parents should be conscious of the need to discourage children from eating out often.Also, there should be an environment at home to engage them in physical activity instead of becoming couch potatoes," said Chowbey. Experts said because there is no immediate effect on health in case of childhood obesity, people often tend to ignore the warning signs. "We must understand that a healthy childhood is the foundation of a healthy life," said the doctor.
He added that half of all non-communicable diseases — diabetes, heart disease, kidney dysfunction and hypertension — can be prevented by reducing obesity among children. Various surveys conducted in Delhi's schools have shown nearly two out of every 10 students in private schools are either overweight or obese. Those studying in government-run schools are also falling prey to obesity and only timely action can save them.