Like parent, like child! A child’s first role model is his/her parent whom the child adores and imitates. If a parent is healthy, eats nutritious foods and exercises regularly chances are more that the kid too follows suit. But when the parent himself/herself is sluggish or lethargic there is no denial that the kid too grows to be like the parent. All said and done, our current lifestyle practices and sedentary behavior has led us to a state wherein obesity and overweight rates are climbing up and almost a quarter of the kids today are either overweight or obese. India has the second highest number of obese children in the world. With the rising number of Western-styled food courts and eateries our nation is approaching a state of no-return. Children don’t play outdoors blaming the scorching heat and stay inside the comforts of the chilled AC rooms with an electronic gadget in their hand. They travel to school via school bus or parents drop them in two wheelers or cars. While evenings were spent playing outside during early days, nowadays evenings are for attending special classes, extracurricular activity classes or for doing homework. Not many kids go down and get a good day’s play in the playground. With all this troubling us we have a new research which says that children who commute to school by walk or by cycle are less likely to be overweight or obese than those who travel by car or public transport.
Physical Activity Negates Increase in Overweight/Obesity in Kids
The study included more than 2000 children and probed into their physical activity levels, body composition and socioeconomic status. Almost 50% of kids participating in the study practiced some sports daily and an equal number of them commuted to school by foot, bicycle or scooter. The research found that kids who commuted actively to school had lower risks of obesity/overweight as they had less body fat. The researchers relied upon body fat and mass instead of BMI as a measure of obesity rates and correlated how these measured up to physical activity levels. These researchers felt that BMI was flawed and it was in no way an appropriate tool for measuring the health risks linked to obesity. Read more about BMI and how it’s been used in today’s world as a weight measure by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
Whereas, if we use BMI measures it was found that kids who were actively involved in sports were likelier to be overweight/obese compared to those who participated in sports less than once a week. But if we consider fat mass and muscle mass, kids involved in sports had more muscle development with not much difference in fat mass. This shows that many inactive children are not classified as obese due to reduced muscle mass. Body fat, on the other hand, proved that staying inactive increased the risk of obesity or overweight. This is the first study to analyze obesity/overweight rates in primary school-going children by relating two extracurricular activities-commuting to school daily and participating in sports activity.
Only when we understand the impact levels of different activities on child obesity levels will we be able to conquer the obesity epidemic and bring our children onto healthy eating ranges. Walking/cycle to school and participating in sports guarantee kids against overweight/obesity issues and this is good news as any of these are practical, easy and simple to implement but their effects are worthwhile and tremendous.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.