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Dec 27, 2008

40% Childrens Are Over Weight

More than 40 per cent of children between three and 17 years of age in Tamil Nadu have nutritional problems. Out of 1,208 children screened across 11 schools in Coimbatore, Chennai and the Nilgiris districts, nearly 470 children were either overweight, obese, underweight or anaemic.


The statistics revealed by Med Vista Health Care Solutions, a private organisation that carries out health programmes in schools, showed that 30 per cent of children screened were overweight. Over 15 per cent of them were obese too. “Lack of physical exercise coupled with excessive consumption of junk foods lead to this problem in children,” said Asha Govindarajan, Nutritionist and Project Lead of MedVista, Coimbatore. If it was left unaddressed, they could even develop diabetes and heart-related problems, she added.



The school health programme, initiated by the company, which involved a detailed analysis of physical and cognitive development of children, also showed that seven per cent of the girls aged between 11 and 17 years were anaemic. “The results indicate that parents themselves are not aware of healthy food habits or do not have enough time to monitor their children’s eating habits,” Ms. Asha said. Increased pressure on the student to perform academically, changing lifestyles, stress and lack of physical exercise had led to these nutritional abnormalities among children.



The most common problem the team from Med Vista could identify was the tendency among students to skip breakfast. This often led to reduced concentration levels in school and lethargy.
The health tests also showed that 30 per cent of the children screened were found to have psychological problems such as difficulty in comprehension, poor social skills, attention deficit disorder, and problems with coordination. Creating a good environment at home, talking to the child, and helping it cope with stress could solve these to a certain extent. The audiological and the speech and language assessments revealed that 19 per cent of the children had problems related to hearing and six per cent problems with speech and language.



“The test would enable parents identify health problems in children which may otherwise go unnoticed and seek speedy treatment options. Early diagnosis and intervention offer improved chances of recovery,” said Nanjan Balu, Chief Manager of Med Vista, Coimbatore. The company conducted a detailed health analysis of the child and the report was sent to the parents. Those children who needed intervention would be referred to the intervention centre set up by Med Vista. The team including doctors, speech language pathologists, audiologists, psychologists, and nutritionists would also talk to the parents, he added.

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