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Sleepless, lethargic youngsters in Delhi NCR are over-eating their way into obesity and health hazards

IndianJEndocrMetab

As per global studies, obesity is no longer just any other lifestyle disease but becoming an epidemic and one of the leading contributors to the global disease burden. Bolstered by unhealthy lifestyle habits, youngsters are becoming the biggest victims resulting in rising incidence of juvenile obesity.

IndianJEndocrMetab

A survey by Max Healthcare, conducted in Delhi NCR reveals that at least 40% children (5-9 year olds), teens (10-14 year olds) and adolescents (15-17 year olds) in the region are overweight or obese. The survey further delves into insights from about 1000 parents of overweight and obese children and adolescents, which reveals 84% girlsand 82% boysare physically and emotionally affected by their body weight issues.

Interestingly, out of a range of factors leading toobesity over eating (72%) followed by genetic reasons (40%) and unmonitored food habits (33.5%) are the leading factors of weight gain

  • Over 75% young children gain weight due to over eating
  • More girls gain weight due to overeating (75%) and unmonitored eating habits (40.8%) in comparison to boys (69.1% and 26% respectively)

Choice of food (low-nutrition/ high calorie),frequency of eating outand large portion sizes– all these aspects come together to become an unhealthy lifestyle choice not just among teenagers (10-14 year olds) and adolescents (15-17 year olds), but in children as well (5-9 year olds). These poor eating habits eventually manifest into a full-fledged eating disorder over a period of time.  

The survey suggests:

  • Eating out two-three times a week is common in all age groups, and more common among boys
  • 3% children eat out2-3 times a week
  • 5% male v/s 72.9% female eat out 2-3 times a week
  • 3% children consume junk, aerated drinks or chocolates 2-3 times a week
  • 6% teenagers eat out2-3 times a week
  • 2% male v/s 88.4% female eat out 2-3 times a week
  • 7% teenagers consume junk, aerated drinks or chocolates 2-3 times a week
  • 2% male v/s 68.7% female teenagers consume junk, aerated drinks or chocolates 2-3 times a week
  • 5% adolescents eat out 2-3 times a week
  • 8% male v/s 70% female eat out 2-3 times a week
  • 2%adolescents consume junk, aerated drinks or chocolates 2-3 times a week

Parents of obese children agreed that they are very impressionable and get influenced by a lot of things. On the one hand, parents are using food as a reward/ means to distract children; on the other hand, peer pressure, social media and advertising, academic stress and mood swings are playing havoc with eating choices. Emotional eating and binge eating are hence becoming very common among young children.

  • Branded food options for junk foodare in high demand
  • 53% respondents consider branded food options as the biggest choice driver
  • Children (42.2%) are most influenced by branded food options
  • Advertising is the 4th most dominant factor across all groups when it comes to food choices
  • Nutrition value is the last consideration for food choice (11.9%)
  • Peer and social influences impact choices
  • Over 46.4% children, teens and adolescents are impacted by peer pressure for their food choices
  • Eating habits among young boys (43.6%) are affected more by peer bullying than in girls (12.2%)
  • Food fads found on the internet are a bigger influence for teenagers (38.2%)in comparison to adolescents (18.9%)
  • Mid-night snacking and media addiction go hand in hand
  • Girls (37.8% children and 52.5% adolescents) tend to indulge more in late night binging in comparison to boys (18% boys and 29.6% girls)
  • Technology dependence triggers irregular eating patterns among young girls (54.1% children and 67.5% adolescent girls are more addicted than boys (48.7% children and 55.6% adolescent girls)
  • Over 50% children access TV, Mobile or any other electronic device while eating food
  • Usage of devices is highest among adolescents64.4%
  • Children are stress-eating their way to obesity:
  • Exam preparation (66.2%) triggers irregular eating habits the most across age groups
  • Children (72.6%) eat more during exam preparation in comparison to teenagers (60.8%)
  • Fight with a friend impacts a child’s (27.4%) eating habits more as compared to teenagers (18.5%)
  • Binge eating at night is the highest among teenagers (45.4%) –boys (32.4%) v/s girls (36%)
  • Poor performance in exams impact eating habits of teenagers (41.1%) the most; boys (42.3%) v/s girls (35.6%)

Additionally, the kids aren’t burning it out, thereby compounding the problem. The survey reveals that only 30% of Delhi NCR’s children are physically active.

  • Only 76% children play sports more than once a week
  • More boys (31.7%) are reluctant to do physical activity than girls (20.7%)
  • 3% Teenagers are not interested in any form of physical exercise
  • 4% girls like dancing and yoga in comparison to just 3.3% boys
  • Sedentary lifestyles are encouraged by technology dependence (58.8%), followed by lack of sporting infrastructure (45.5%) and overload of studies (41.2%)
  • Over 55% parents of young children blame safety concerns in public places for lack of exercise among their children
  • Safety concerns keep more girls (21.9%) indoor than boys (12.3%)
  • Over 40% teenagers blame lack of friends in neighbourhood for their low physical activity
  • Technology influences girls (64.5%) more than boys (52.7%) when it comes to lack of exercise
  • More girls (45.2%) feel overload of studies is the reason for their low exercise levels; boys (37%)

And the biggest underlying cause for all these is poor sleeping habits. According to Dr. Pradeep Chowbey, Chairman, Department of Minimal Access, Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery at Max Healthcare“Youngsters are sleeping late and often resort to midnight binging. They do not burn any calories after their eating late at night as they sleep after that and at the same time during the day, they are lethargic thus burning very less calories in the day. Moreover, the increasing screen usage time among children these days causes a lot of emotional and hormonal changes. Stress hormones and steroids production is increased in the body which in turn increases the appetite thus contributing to weight gain.”

  • Sleeping disorders, depression, stress and anxiety impact 29% obese respondents
    • 52% obese girls suffer from sleeping disorders as compared to 18% boys
    • Among children, 33% boys and 65% girls show such signs
    • Among teens, 39% boys and 74% girls show such signs
    • Among adolescents, 41% boys and 38% girls show such signs

All of this is visible in the coming of lifestyle diseases among children.

  • Over 40% parents state that their child suffers from hormonal imbalance and conditions of PCOD/PCOS
  • Over 68% children suffer from eating disorders, with over 21% having high sugar levels
  • Over 29% parents state that their child shows symptoms of depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders
  • 39% children suffer from breathing problems
  • 15% obese boys and girls also suffer from joint pain
  • 24% obese boys and girls suffer from or are suspected to show symptoms of blood pressure fluctuations
  • Over 41% parents actively believe that their child lacks physical stamina while another 37% suspect their children might be suffering from a lack of stamina
  • Blood pressure fluctuations have been commonly observed in 18% obese boys and girls

In conclusion, the survey draws co-relations between factors that are making early onset of lifestyle diseases an alarming reality in Delhi NCR. It also highlights how leading causes of obesity are resulting in physical and emotional damage to children, teenagers and adolescents in the region.

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