To maintain a healthy body, much has been written about and advised for adults. But, do parents keep a watch on what children eat? Health hazards like obesity and unhealthy lifestyles seem to be affecting young children too these days. “According to WHO, 22 million children are overweight.
The prevalence of obesity in school children between the ages of 14 -17 is seen to be as high as 29 per cent in private schools of New Delhi, and many other cities are not far behind,” says Dr Rekha Sharma, president of Indian Dietetic Association and director of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics of the Diabetes Foundation (India). She says that 50 -70 per cent of these children are likely to become obese adults.
What is most alarming is that once obesity is detected, diabetes and heart disease will strike early, possibly even by your twenties. “What happens is, even if the individual is overweight in the early teens or twenties the risk of heart disease rises for them as early as the age of 35-40. It becomes an accumulated problem,” affirms Dr Aashish Contractor, HOD of Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation, Asian Heart Institute. What seems to be affecting children most is the sedentary lifestyle of video-gaming and web-browsing and no physical activity.
Dr Sharma suggests for those who are already suffering from obesity, healthy foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy and healthy oils should be added in the diet. “Using heart-healthy cooking oils such as canola or olive oil can help in maintaining cholesterol levels,” she says. Chef Kunal Kapur agrees and says that a correct diet and exercising, is the way to go. “Always opt for healthier options and make sure that your child is involved in the cooking process.
This will ensure that your kid understands how much oil/ghee and fat content goes into the dish,” says Kapur, executive sous-chef of the The Leela Kempinski, Gurgaon. He also says parents should be more involved with their children’s friends and parents circle and decide amongst each other a healthy menu for lunch boxes and snacks. “Also use natural sweeteners like honey, dates in homemade food and develop a taste for a low-carb diet. After all, children are mirrors of you. They eat what you eat!”