Over 43 Lakh Children in India Identified as Obese or Overweight
According to official data, more than 43 lakh children in India’s 0-5 age group were identified as obese or overweight last month. This accounts for around 6% of the total children surveyed at Anganwadi centres across the country.
- Approximately 6% or 43,47,387 children in the 0-5 age group were classified as obese or overweight.
- Thirteen States and Union Territories exhibit obesity rates surpassing the national average of 6%.
- Childhood obesity has exhibited an upward trend in recent years.
- A global study warns that childhood obesity in India could see an annual rise of 9.1% by 2035.
- The risk of obesity for boys in India may surge from 3% in 2020 to 12% within the next 12 years.
- The likely impact on India’s national GDP due to obesity is close to 1.8%.
The data collected from government-run rural childcare centres, known as Anganwadis, showed that the percentage of obese or overweight children was almost the same as that of severely and moderately malnourished children.
The ‘Poshan Tracker’ growth monitoring app collected data from a total of 7,24,56,458 children in the 0-5 years age category. Out of these, approximately 6% or 43,47,387 children were classified as obese or overweight.
Thirteen States and Union Territories, including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal, exhibited obesity rates surpassing the national average of 6%.
A global study published by the World Obesity Federation warns that childhood obesity is a grave concern worldwide, with India being no exception. The study projects a potential annual rise of 9.1% in childhood obesity in India by 2035.
Increase in Childhood Obesity:
Statistics from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) show that there has been a notable increase in the percentage of overweight children under five years of age compared to previous surveys. Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir recorded the highest percentages of overweight children, while Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh reported the lowest percentages.
Child rights organisation CRY’s CEO, Puja Marwaha, has identified several key factors contributing to rising childhood obesity in India:
- Shift towards unbalanced diets and increased consumption of highly processed foods
- Sedentary lifestyle limiting the burning of excess calories
- Shift in children’s dietary patterns, especially in urban and semi-urban settings
- Disappearance of micronutrients from the diet of the poor due to replacement of traditional kitchen gardens with cash crops
- Affordability of nutritious food options for low-income families
Impact on Health and Economy:
Obese children face an elevated risk of developing various health problems, including Type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. These conditions can have immediate and long-term consequences on a child’s quality of life and life expectancy.
A global study warns that continued failure to address and manage obesity could result in a global economic impact of USD 4.32 trillion by 2035, with India’s national GDP being affected by 1.8%.
Addressing Childhood Obesity:
According to Puja Marwaha, addressing childhood obesity must begin with proper parenting and raising awareness among parents about balanced diets. She also highlighted the need to promote the consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, founder and director of Manasthali, emphasized the need to address childhood obesity as it often persists into adulthood, increasing the risk of chronic health conditions and early mortality.