School children in Ahmedabad are increasingly living a sedentary lifestyle characterised by lack of exercise and eating out.
A survey carried out by the Ahmedabad Medical Association (AMA) found that of the 11,447 school children surveyed from 16 schools of the city, 20% of them were found to be obese. It also found that 17% of the surveyed children to be underweight. The survey covered students from class 5 to 10 across the city.
Interestingly, among those surveyed more number of boys than girls were found to be obese. Of the 2008 children who were found to be obese, 1,297 (65%) were boys.
“We carried out the survey to not only know about obesity in children but also to create awareness about the dangers of the same,” said AMA president Dr Pragnesh Vachharajani.
The survey also sought to know the exercise and eating habits of the students and found that 77% of the total number of students surveyed ate out once a week. 58% had food in front of television while 64% did not engage in any sort of exercise or physical activity.
“77% of the children eating out, once a week, is a huge percentage and dangerous trend. The lack of exercise is another worrying factor because physical activity goes a long way in combating obesity,” said Vachharajani.
Dr Chetan Trivedi, a pediatrician said that healthy eating habits needs to be inculcated early in life if we are to combat obesity in children. “Children have easy access to junk food. Eating out regularly only adds to the problem. In fact, junk food these days is cheaper than healthy food and easily fits in their budget,” said Dr Trivedi.
A positive aspect of the survey was that it found that 70% of the kids brought home-made lunch. “This is an encouraging trend.
This can also be because of the fact that several schools insist on children bringing home-cooked food,” said Dr Trivedi.
As to why more boys than girls were found to be obese, he said it was because men were in general more prone to obesity than women. He said that educating mothers on the matter is very important.
The association also disbursed 20,000 books on healthy eating and ways and means to prevent child obesity. The association also plans to follow up with the surveyed schools to conduct meetings and guidance on the issue.
On lack of exercise, Vachharajani said that lack of playgrounds in schools was an issue but parents could ensure that children were involved in some or the other physical activity like cycling, running, badminton, skipping etc.