Problem of Childhood Obesity in India
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat is accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health. It may cause reduced life expectancy and increases health problems. People with body mass index (BMI) exceeding 30 are considered obese. BMI is a measurement obtained by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height.
Obesity may be caused by lifestyle choices, endocrinal reasons (hormonal), Genetics, Illnesses (Eating disorders, Hypothyroidism), or correlations between economic affluence and social class. Obesity in children exposes them to various health risks, especially cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes, Certain types of cancers and osteoarthritis.
Magnitude of problem
National Family Health Survey (NFHS) shows that heart disease accounted for about a ¼th of all deaths of people aged between 25 and 69 between 2001 and 2003. In urban areas ⅓ of deaths are caused by heart disease. Obesity in early childhood has been shown to have a direct correlation with serious illnesses in young adults. On the other hand, India is also home to the greatest number of malnourished children in the world – about 48% of all children are underweight and almost 2 million die each year from related preventable diseases as of 2012.
India’s policy makers now have to fight an epidemic of malnutrition on one hand and address a growing challenge of mass obesity on the other. Both these extremes require sharply different strategies, efficient allocation of resources, addressing health concerns etc.