The ongoing Covid pandemic has destroyed some of the most precious years of teenagers all over the world. Not only they were deprived of their natural habitat for too long, they also have to now struggle with growing obesity which has always been a major concern for teenagers.
Data confirms why teenage obesity should be a worldwide health concern?
Childhood obesity rates have increased substantially over the past year in across the globe. The problem is no longer restricted only to high-income countries and societies.
Low-income and middle-income countries are also staring at frightening levels of teenage obesity. In 2018, almost half the world’s children younger than 5 years with overweight lived in Asia and a quarter in Africa, with the number in Africa rising by just under 45% between 2000 and 2018.
It is indeed a worldwide health issue now with the effects of the pandemic and national lockdowns seemingly adding to the issue. There have been frequent school closures, travel restrictions and limitations on meeting with people have resulted in a more sedentary lifestyle since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.
The CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says that the rate of BMI increase almost doubled in US children and adolescents aged 2–19 years during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic.
Data published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology revealed a positive association between increasing BMI and admission to ICU due to COVID-19.
Long-term effects can destroy a whole generation
Children with overweight and obesity are more likely to become adults with obesity and to develop non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease at a younger age than children considered to have a healthy weight.
There is also an increased risk of cancer, premature death, and disability later in life.
Why teenage obesity should worry India?
The National Family Health Survey observes the continuous rise in obesity among children under five years of age.
The number of overweight children increased from 2.1 per cent in NFHS-4 to 3.4 per cent in NFHS-5.
Another worrying finding is the fact that 33 states and union territories registered a spike in the number of overweight children. This has largely happened because of the lack of physical activity and unhealthy food habits.
According to the NFHS-5, several states and union territories, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Mizoram, Tripura, Lakshadweep, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Ladakh, have registered increase in the percentage of obesity among children below five years of age in comparison to NFHS-4 conducted between 2015 and 2016.
A guide to fight teenage obesity
Health experts believe that cost-effective interventions such as WHO’s ‘best buys’ can help fight teenage obesity effectively.
In addition to this, there is a need for effective programmes and policies in multiple sectors to address overnutrition, undernutrition, mobility and physical activity.