Growing girth? Count your child’s calorie intake

Childhood obesity is a cause for worry for parents across the world.

Written by CHHAVI BHATIA | Chandigarh | Published: February 22, 2009 3:23:06 am

Childhood obesity is a cause for worry for parents across the world. Fresh figures available with doctors at the Government Medical College and Hospital,Sector 32,only point to the fact that it’s high time the people of Chandigarh took the problem more seriously.

The rise in the number of children in the age group of 6 to 15 years,seeking dietary counselling from nutritionists in the hospital,is a surprising 25 per cent in the last two years. This takes the total figure of such children to a shocking 65 per cent.

“The number of children coming to us with the problem of obesity has increased manifold in the last two years. Earlier,children were at the most overweight,but the recent trends have shown a shift towards obesity. We get at least five cases of obese children every month,” says Dr Madhu Arora,senior dietician at GMCH-32. According to her,obesity is more profound in boys.

Whether a child is obese or overweight is determined through the body mass index (BMI ). “The concept of measuring height-weight ratio has become obsolete. It is the BMI which is the right criterion to know a child’s status of physical health. Any child having a BMI more than 23 is categorised as obese,” says Arora.

The causes for the rising cases of obesity are attributed to sedentary lifestyle and junk food. Blaming it on the parents,nutritionists say excessive intake of carbohydrates is wreaking havoc on children’s health.

“Parents give in to children’s demands of eating out. Burgers,chips,pizzas are loaded with carbohydrates and trans-fats. They fail to see the adverse effects that these food products have on the child in the long run,” says Nisha Minocha,a nutritionist. Agrees Arora: “Of the total percentage of children suffering from obesity,20 per cent are inflicted with juvenile diabetes,which should ring an alarm bell for parents. Such children may later develop other problems like heart diseases and hypertension.”

Obesity can be avoided and controlled by keeping a check on the child’s diet. “Parents should maintain a healthy and balanced mix of proteins and carbohydrates in their children’s diet. Instead of giving in to the child’s demand every time,they should make eating out a once-in-a-while affair,” suggests Arora.

Good health tips
* Include more of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet.
* This will give enough fibre and roughage
* Do not completely cut down on carbohydrates.
* Maintain a balance between vitamins and foods that give energy to the body
* Include milk and milk products as they help in bone building
* Three meals a day is a must

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