On World Obesity Day on Monday, doctors stated that the prevalence of obesity in children in India has skyrocketed, increasing the likelihood of an unhealthy future.

Every year on March 4, people around the world observe World Obesity Day to increase awareness of the disease and its effects.

“As a consultant physician, I’ve seen first-hand how India’s health landscape is being reshaped by a troubling trend: an increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) not just among adults, but alarmingly, in children too. Conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers are now being diagnosed at younger ages,” Dr. Vaishali Lokhande, General Physician, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospitals.

Data from the hospital shows that obesity in children tripled compared to five years ago. Hypertension, once rare in children, has nearly quadrupled.

According to a recent global analysis published in The Lancet, there were 12.5 million grossly overweight children in India between the ages of five and nineteen in 2022 (7.3 million boys and 5.2 million girls), a significant increase from 0.4 million in 1990.

This represents a threefold increase in just three decades, and it raises concerns about our country’s long-term health. As a physician, I am extremely concerned about India’s obesity epidemic, especially the startling rise in childhood obesity, says Dr. Shridhar Deshmukh of Ruby Hall Clinic Hinjewadi.

The rising incidence of obesity is ascribed by Dr. Manish Mittal, Consultant Physician at Bhailal Amin General Hospital in Vadodara, to lifestyle factors that carry risks such as diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.

Obese people frequently have fatty liver, obstructive sleep apnea, and arthritis, which contributes to a substantial medical burden, he said.

To combat obesity, the experts advocated for early awareness and education, especially for children. Sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy eating habits, and early obesity are major contributing factors.

“Childhood habits impacting adult health are a major contributing factor to India’s health crisis, which is characterized by an increase in the incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. In order to address this problem, we need to pass laws supporting healthy environments, encourage physical activity, push for traditional, nutrient-rich foods, and increase public awareness of the effects of lifelong habits. India can tackle the rising prevalence of chronic illnesses and improve the general health of its people by promoting healthy habits at a young age, according to Dr. Aasim Maldar, Consultant Endocrinologist and Diabetologist at P. D Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre.

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