Lifestyle Diseases Among Children in India
Did you know that our children are falling prey to lifestyle diseases in increasing numbers? Here’s information for parents about some of the common lifestyle diseases affecting children in India.
By Ashwin Dewan
Most common diseases – both physical as well as psychological – are the result of leading a wrong lifestyle. This had been a common finding among adults for a long time now. However, we must now wake up to the sad reality that children are suffering from lifestyle diseases as well.
According to The Times of India, a statistic sourced from the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism says that somewhere between 5.74 per cent and 8.82 per cent of school children in India are obese. Regular consumption of processed foods and fast foods is a major cause of obesity.
In fact, consuming junk food, watching television for extended periods of time and lack of exercise are the three reasons for your child to develop lifestyle diseases.
HomeRemediesforyou says lifestyle diseases develop mostly due to:
- Inadequate exercise or the total lack of it
- The type of work we do
- The environment in which we live in
- The food we eat
Common lifestyle diseases affecting Indian kids
A number of children suffer from diseases such as heart problems, cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes nowadays. We look at the top five lifestyle diseases among Indian children.
1. Childhood obesity
Obesity is one of the most common lifestyle diseases in India. A Hindustan Times article quotes a study published in Paediatric Obesity, as having stated that by 2025, India will have over a staggering 17 million obese children.
Obesity is a condition that is characterised by excessive body fat. An obese child is significantly overweight for his height and weight. Obese children are also at risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, gout, and even certain types of cancer.
Today, an increasing number of children follow an unhealthy diet that involves consumption of large amounts of processed fast foods like burgers, pizzas, carbonated drinks, tin foods etc. These foods are loaded with calories and poor in nutrients leading to massive weight gain.
Childhood obesity has long-term health effects as obese children are likely less likely to lose weight leading to diseases when they grow up.
Another lifestyle-related disease that children suffer from is asthma. In fact, it is the leading cause of chronic illness in children. Asthma can start at any age. Symptoms begin as early as when the child is an infant. The number of children suffering from asthma is increasing in India, in which pollution is one major factor. With children spending a majority of their time indoors, they are vulnerable to more dust and second-hand smoke.
3. Skin problems and allergies
Did you know that allergies not only cause your child to sneeze but show up on the skin? Today, an increasing number of children are suffering from skin problems like eczema and hives – both of which are related to allergies. This can be attributed to their lifestyle – the food they eat, the pets they keep, when they are outdoors, etc.
There are different types of allergies:
a) Food allergies: From eating different foods but common ones include peanuts, milk, nuts, soy, fish, wheat, peas, and shellfish.
b) Dust allergies: Children allergic to dust suffer from sneezing and other uncomfortable symptoms.
c) Pet allergies: Certain children develop allergic to some pets such as dogs – especially their fur, cats etc.
d) Medicine allergy: Some children develop a rash or have difficulty breathing after taking certain medications.
Anaemia is a condition where a person has lower than normal number of red blood cells or haemoglobin in their blood. It is among the top five lifestyle diseases in Indian children. In the article, 'India tops the list of nations with most anaemic women and children,' published in FIRSTPOST, writer Swagata Yadavar says iron-deficiency anaemia is rampant among children below the age of three (78.9 percent). Anaemia impacts language skills, motor skills and coordination among infants and young children.
One major reason behind Indian children being anaemic is their food habits – poor intake of iron-rich foods like vegetables, pulses, fish, eggs and nuts.
5. Psychological problems and anxiety
Lifestyle diseases can even include anxiety and psychological issues in children. In simple terms, anxiety is a form of stress. It can manifest itself in various ways – physically and emotionally. It impacts the way your child views the world around her. Some psychological problems that children suffer from include: anxiety disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders, etc.
Anxiety can even come from spending too much time indoors and not engaging in any activity.
List of lifestyle diseases
Here is a list of other common diseases affecting adults as well as children which are related to poor lifestyle choices.
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart diseases
- High blood pressure
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Tips for parents
Lifestyle diseases can prove troublesome for children to handle at a young age. Help your child follow these simple tips to prevent them:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising every day
- Avoiding foods that are high in fats, salt and sugar
Leading a wrong and an unhealthy lifestyle will eventually take a toll on the body. One worrying factor is that many of the lifestyle diseases like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure are affecting children as well. We take a look at lifestyle diseases in children in this ClipBook.
About the author:
Written by Ashwin Dewan on 11 August 2017; updated on 26 June 2020
With inputs from Dr. Jyothi Raghuram, Consultant – Paediatrician with special interest - Paediatric Rheumatology, Columbia Asia Hospitals, Whitefield.
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