Junk foods provide calories but not vital elements, hence a major cause for childhood obesity in India.
The population of India consists of lower socioeconomic classes who stay in slums and middle and upper socioeconomic classes who stay in proper houses. Children in slums do not have proper food because of the cost and the middle and the upper class children do not eat proper food. They eat food, which are tasty but lack in vitamins and minerals. They prefer to eat the so-called fast food or junk food, which are oily, rich in fats but lacking in vital elements. Examples of these foods biscuits, pastas, french – fries, pizzas, samosas, pastries, wafers and vadapavs.
These foods provide calories but not vital elements and hence a major cause for childhood obesity.
Alarmingly large numbers of urban children are found to be nutritionally poor in our country.
An ideal diet for children is one, which is quantitatively and qualitatively adequate.
The fat, carbohydrates and proteins in the diet measure quantity of food and the vitamins and minerals in them measure quality. Human cells require at least 45 elements and compounds and lack of even one can lead to illness.
To have all these 45 elements one should eat a balanced diet comprising of vegetables, fruits, dal, chapatti/rice and milk. Overcooking of the food should be avoided as it destroys the vitamins and minerals.
In India although Mid Day Meal schemes have been introduced in schools where fortification of food such as iodized salt is served to promote growth and development in children but micronutrients and vitamins such as C, D, A, Iron, Zinc and other minerals and vitamins are also essential to prevent childhood malnutrition. Only consuming a balanced diet supplemented with micronutrients can do this.
Currently India is facing a problem of vitamins and mineral depleted childhood obesity in urban population mainly due to junk food consumption and under nutrition in rural children due to inaccessibility to food. Problem of iron and vitamin A deficiency along with other micronutrients still persists in preschool children.
Correction in diet and modification with scientific nutrition and supplements are key factors in correction of these nutritional deficits.
Dr.Lakshmi Pal, M.B.B.S., DCH
About the Author
Dr.Lakshmi Pal, M.B.B.S., DCH grduated in the year 1977 from Lady Hardinge Medical College .She did post graduation in pediatrics from Kalawati Saran Childrens Hospital, New Delhi ,IAP sponsored fellowship in Pulmonology from Sir Gangaram Hospital New Delhi.
She is practicing pediatrics since 1982 in Janakpuri and Vikaspuri , New Delhi.
She is also the founder and trustee of Heal India -a non profit organisation which holds free health camps for the general public in and around Delhi.