With increasing evidence that childhood obesity is a “global epidemic” affecting even the poorer nations, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines on how trained professionals can better identify youngsters in need of help.
India has the second highest number of obese children in the world after China.
Doctors say identification of obesity in children is the main issue as often parents think a chubby child is a healthy child.
The WHO guidelines titled “Assessing and managing children at primary healthcare facilities to prevent overweight and obesity in the context of the double burden of malnutrition” provides updates for the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI).
The guideline includes counselling, dieting and assessment of eating habits along with the usual weight and height measurements.
In 2016, one half of all children overweight or obese lived in Asia and one quarter lived in Africa.
Paradoxically, overweight and obesity is found in populations where under-nutrition remains common - the term ‘double-burden of malnutrition’ is sometimes used to describe these settings.”
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) is disseminating the WHO guideline to all its members.
The prevalence of obesity in children reflects changing patterns towards unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.
A study published in Paediatric Obesity says India will have over 17 million children with excess weight by 2025.
Dr. Aggarwal said that urbanisation, increased income, availability of fast foods, educational demands, television viewing and gaming have led to a rise in the consumption of foods high in fats, sugar and salt and low physical activity.
Most obese children develop early puberty, joint pain and find it difficult to exercise. This in turn results in metabolic syndrome and they end up with Type 2 diabetes.