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NEW DELHI: There has been an increase in obesity in children under the age of five with 33 states and union territories recording an increase in the number of overweight children, according to the latest national health survey of family (NFHS). Experts have attributed the increase in obesity to a lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits.

The number of overweight children fell from 2.1% in NFHS-4 to 3.4% in NFHS-5.

Not just in children, obesity in women and men has also increased.

The percentage of overweight women rose from 20.6% to 24%, while among men the number rose from 18.9% to 22.9%, according to the NFHS-5.

According to 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, recorded an increase in the percentage of obesity. in children under five compared to NFHS-4 conducted between 2015 and 2016.

Only Goa, Tamil Nadu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu saw a drop in the number of overweight children under five, according to the data.

According to survey data, 30 states and union territories recorded an increase in obesity among women while 33 states and UTs recorded an increase in obesity among men.

Both men and women were counted as obese whose body mass index was found to be greater than or equal to 25.0 kg / m2, while childhood obesity was counted in terms of weight / height ratio.

Health experts have attributed the increase in obesity to unhealthy food choices and lack of physical activity in children and even adults.

Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of the Population Foundation of India, said that behind the increasing obesity trend among Indian women, men and children over the past 15 years, confirmed by NFHS-5, lurk in rising incomes, unhealthy eating habits and unhealthy lifestyle choices. .

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A large majority of Indians do not seem to recognize the importance of leading a healthy and active lifestyle.

“The sustained economic growth over the past 15 years has resulted in a marked increase in people’s incomes. We know that obesity among Indians increases as they get richer. In 2015-16, according to the NFHS-4, the proportion of overweight or obese men was 5% among families in the lowest wealth quintile and 33% in the highest wealth quintile ”, a- she declared.

“Likewise, the proportion of overweight or obese women was 6% among families in the lowest wealth quintile and 36% in the highest wealth quintile.

However, blaming the increase in income is not fair. It also has a lot to do with bad eating habits. Consumption of unhealthy foods (commonly referred to as junk food) high in calories from sugar or fat and low in dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals is known to increase as families get richer, ”he said. declared Muttreja.

Besides these problems, a large majority of Indians do not seem to recognize the importance of leading a healthy and active life. They tend to lead sedentary lives and lack the motivation to exercise of any kind, including taking a walk.

Sadly, parents don’t seem to realize the negative consequences of these lifestyle choices they make on children’s health and nutritional well-being, she added.

Dr Antaryami Dash, Nutrition Officer, Save the Children, India, said every nation enters a double-burden situation of malnutrition where undernutrition (stunting / wasting / underweight) and over-nutrition (overweight / underweight) coexist. obesity) at the population level. The prevalence is highest in western and industrialized countries, but is gradually catching up to developing countries.

“Although the current understanding of the health consequences of overweight and obesity is primarily based on studies in adults, a growing body of evidence suggests that childhood obesity has a number of immediate, intermediate consequences. and long term health. This stems from an obesogenic environment, which includes altering food systems and reducing physical activity, ”said Dash.

He said that although cost-effective interventions such as WHO’s “best buys” have been identified, political will and implementation have so far been limited.

Effective programs and policies are needed across multiple sectors to address over-nutrition, undernutrition, mobility and physical activity, he added. PTI UZM DV DV