Kids in south India slimmer than those in north India

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Kids in south India slimmer than those in north India copyChildren in south are healthier than youngsters up north, suggests a study that mapped the prevalence of obesity across the country.
With obesity in the country being on the uptick for the last decade, the WHO-commissioned study reviewed surveys undertaken in 16 states between 1981 and 2013. Researchers from Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, who led the study, found while the overall obesity prevalence was 20.7% among children and adolescents up north, in the southern region it was 15.1%.
Dietary pattern coupled with difference in lifestyles could be the reason for this trend, said Dr Viswanathan Mohan, who was part of the research team. “Although they consume more rotis than rice, they are often rich in ghee, which adds more calories and fat,” said Dr Mohan. Nutritionists say this platter combined with junk food is turning deadly for children. However, they say the real impact is yet to be fully studied. The states and cities with the highest prevalence of obesity were Punjab, Delhi, Jaipur and Surat.
While the north may have higher prevalence, the study, which was recently published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, noted that obesity rates showed no signs of decline across the country. The pooled data after 2010 estimated a combined obesity-overweight prevalence of 19.3% among children, a significant increase from the 16.3% reported in 2001-2005.
The term overweight refers to excess body weight for a particular height, while obesity is used to define excess body fat. Both are the result of excess calorie intake or insufficient physical activity or both. Childhood obesity, experts say, is a forerunner of metabolic syndrome, poor physical health, mental disorders, respiratory problems and glucose intolerance, all of which can track into adulthood.
The study also found that overweight and obesity rates in children and adolescents are increasing not just among the higher socio-economic groups but also in the lower income groups where underweight still remains a major concern. Researchers found that although obesity was still higher among the former group at around 18%, obesity had gone up from around 4% to 8% among poor.
Harish Ranjani, another researcher, said the rate of increase in obesity among the lower socio-economic group was still slower compared to the higher ones, but the climb is not negligible. “Especially because this same group suffers from undernourishment too. Unfortunately , the government while focusing on malnourishment is not looking at nutrition as an issue,” she said.
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